Why Aquino vetoed Magna Carta for the poor

·Kim Arveen Patria

President Benigno Aquino III has vetoed the Magna Carta for the poor, noting the absence of a provision which gives the government ample time to provide for basic demandable rights.

The government recognizes basic rights listed in the final bill submitted by Congress, Aquino said at the sidelines of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines’ fifth anniversary.

These include rights to food, employment and livelihood, quality education, shelter and basic health services and medicine.

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He particularly pointed to a provision of the bill which said: "The government shall, as a matter of duty and obligation, provide the requirements, conditions, and opportunities for the full enjoyment of these rights of the poor and which the poor can demand as a matter of right."

But the President highlighted the need to include the phrase "progressive realization" on the part of the government, which he admitted may not be able to immediately provide for these rights.

To stress his point, Aquino said the national budget, which stands at P2.006 trillion this year, will still be unable to provide for the housing needs alone, which has been pegged at five million units.

"So, sa madaling salita, pwede akong nagpa-cute. Pwede kong pinirmahan itong batas na 'to, pogi tayo, pero alam ko hindi mami-meet ng gobyerno (In other words, I could have signed this bill to look good, but I know the government can't live up to it)."

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The veto does not mark the death of the Magna Carta for the poor, however, with the President noting that he has ordered his Cabinet to draft a new law.

"Our corrective action here is to direct our social cluster to draw up a substantive measure that we will give to the next Congress, and hopefully, they will act upon it with haste," Aquino said.

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