Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has called for concerted effort to help alleviate the daily sufferings of poor Filipino families, especially those who have been neglected by the government and become victims of violence, abuse and exploitation.
In her message on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty today (Oct. 17), De Lima said Filipinos should reach out to their poor countrymen so that they can understand the sufferings of those mired in poverty in the country.
“It is incumbent upon all of us to address the plight of our poor countrymen and defeat the scourge of worsening poverty in the country, especially under the rule of a tyrannical leader who does not care for them,” she said.
“Let us remember and help those who have long been neglected by authorities, and who are victims of violence, abuse, and exploitation. Clearly, we need to be in touch with them to truly understand their sufferings and provide lasting solutions to their problems,” she added.
The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty has been observed yearly since 1993 when the United Nations (UN) designated October 17 to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution in countries across the world.
According to the UN, persons living in poverty experience several interrelated and mutually reinforcing deprivations that prevent them from realizing their rights and perpetuating their poverty, such as dangerous work conditions, lack of nutritious food, unequal access to justice, lack of political power and limited access to health care.
Around the world, around 592 million people – and counting – are reportedly living in extreme poverty. In the Philippines alone, over 26 million people are estimated to be suffering in dire poverty, based on the 2018 official figures.
Citing the oft-cited quotes from the credo of the late President Ramon Magsaysay “I believe that he who has less in life should have more in law,” De Lima said she hopes that her fellow leaders and Filipinos will continue to be guided by his principles and legacy.
“President Magsaysay’s legacy of championing the poor’s welfare continues to inspire and challenge us to this day, especially our leaders, to balance the scale of social justice,” she said.
A social justice and human rights champion, two of De Lima’s pro-poor measures – the Magna Carta of the Poor Act and the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) Act – have successfully been signed into laws.
“I am [g]rateful that as Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, the Magna Carta of the Poor Act and [4Ps] Act, which I principally authored, have already been enacted into law, to ensure the basic needs of the poor and invest on their education, health and nutrition,” she shared.
The Magna Carta of the Poor Act mandates the government to establish a system of “progressive realization” or implementation to provide the requirements, conditions, and opportunities for the full enjoyment of the fundamental rights of the poor while the 4Ps Law institutionalizes the 4Ps as one of the government’s regular anti-poverty programs for qualified poor Filipino families.
The lady Senator from Bicol said she hopes that her countrymen will never stop working together in upholding equality and social justice until every Filipino in the country is able to thrive with humane and dignified lives.
“As long as there are children who cannot afford to study because of financial problems and beg for money on the streets; as long as there are parents who are forced to leave their family to work abroad; as long as the continued abuse of our less fortunate countrymen for selfish interests persists, we cannot and we shall not stop fighting for their causes,” she said.