The self-executing provisions on socioeconomic rights have been lined up for consultative committee (Con-com) en banc decision by next week.
The socioeconomic rights, particularly, rights to health, education and decent housing are to be enshrined in the Bill of Rights under the proposed constitution to address social inequities and wide economic disparities in the country.
Con-com Chairman and former Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno told reporters in a news briefing that these three socioeconomic rights are “most urgent,” specifically for the poor sectors of society.
“And this point of view is not only reflected by the realities in the Philippines but universally,” he said, stating that the South African Constitution also included these in their Bill of Rights.
Puno also said the committee has studied various constitutions before deciding on enshrining these socioeconomic rights, and found that the constitutions of South Africa and India, among others, are good models for the upcoming federal constitution.
The enshrinement of socioeconomic rights will benefit the public since they can go to court in order to enforce these demandable rights.
At present, only civil and political rights are listed under the Bill of Rights. But since the Con-com members are tasked to review the 1987 Constitution, they are proposing to include socioeconomic and environmental rights in their proposed charter.
Last week the Con-com bared their proposed coverage of environmental rights. But they are also yet to decide on the exact wording of the self-executing provisions.
The Con-com is supposed to submit its final draft to the President on July 19, ahead of the Chief Executive’s State of the Nation Address on July 23.
Asked to elaborate on how the enshrinement of these rights will solve wide economic disparities in the country, Puno admitted that it may not completely solve the problems of the poor, “but at the very least, it will help the poor fight for a better life,” and become “a more effective tool to fight poverty.”
He is also confident that government funds won’t hinder the realization of these rights, as the government will be compelled to act to meet the demands of these socioeconomic rights.
“It would also encourage Congress to make the proper appropriations in order to be able to satisfy the grant of these most basic socioeconomic rights,” Puno said.
“If we don’t do this, then the enforcement of these socioeconomic rights will just remain statements of policies,” Puno added.