Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Sec. Judy Taguiwalo was among the first to sign the signature campaign seeking to speed-up the legislative process to amend Republic Act (RA) 8972 or the Solo Parents Welfare Act of 2000 and grant additional benefits to solo parents and their children.
Sec. Taguiwalo said that this is one of the ways to show solidarity with solo parents in the country who are considered a vulnerable sector because they carry the sole and heavy responsibility of providing for their children.
“Batid kong napakahirap ang maging isang solong magulang kaya dapat ding tumulong ang mga komunidad at ang pamahalaan na gumaan ang kanilang kalagayan. Mahalaga sanang magtayo ng mga day care at child minding centers ang mga barangay unit kung saan maaaring iwanan ng mga solo parents ang kanilang mga anak para makapaghanap buhay sila. Dapat ding mawala na ang ‘stigma’ o marka ng kahihiyan sa mga solo parents na karaniwang nagiging mga biktima ng pang-aabuso at pag-alipusta (I know how difficult it is to be a solo parent, and there is an urgent need for communities and the government down to the baranggay level to help them cope with the difficulties of their situation. For instance, barangays can establish day care and child minding centers where solo parents can leave their children so they can work. We also hope that solo parents who in many cases were victims of abuse and ridicule of their ex-partners will no longer suffer from the stigma unjustly brought about by their status),” Sec. Taguiwalo said.
All of the 14 members of the DSWD Executive Committee have also signed for the campaign. To date, some 200 DSWD employees have signed and the papers continue to be passed around.
Spearheaded by the Federation of Solo Parents in Luzvimin, Gabriela Women’s Party and Ilaw para sa Kababaihan at Bata, the Signature Campaign will be formally launched on March 8, 2-4 pm at Bonifacio Shrine, Manila in line with the celebration of National Women’s Month. Gabriela hopes to generate one million signatures.
The signature campaign is also supported by the Social Welfare Employees Association of the Philippines (SWEAP) and the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE).
More than 1,000 solo parents from the member-organizations of FSPL-USPP in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga, Naga City, Camarines Sur and Tacloban City are expected to join the event.
“I enjoin all Filipinos – men and women alike – to sign the Gabriela petition calling for the immediate amendment of the Solo Parents law. We should also push and encourage our local government units to improve their social welfare services for the citizenry, including services for solo parents,” she said.
A study conducted by the Department of Health (DOH) together with the University of the Philippines-National Institute of Health (UP-NIH) in 2007 placed the estimated number of solo parents at an alarming 14 million Filipinos out of the 94 million population at that time. This figure translates to about 30.5% growth rate for the solo parent sector during these years.
Based on this figure, the projected number of solo parents in the Philippines by the end of 2017 could be around 20 million. This would mean that solo parents represent one of the biggest marginalized sectors of our society today.
Side by side with the sector’s issues and concerns is the plight of children being raised by solo parents, especially single mothers. Studies also revealed that solo parents have an average number of two children based on conservative estimates, hence, this could translate to 60 million young Filipinos being raised by solo parents without adequate support from the government.
The need to amend the law
According to Sec. Taguiwalo, these alarming estimates clearly showed the need to amend RA 8972, which has been enacted into law 16 years ago to help solo parents cope with their situation.
Currently, there are 10 bills in the House of Representatives which seek to amend the law, one is on the National Solo Parents’ Day which is with the Committee on Population and Family Relations.
The Committee on Revision of Laws chaired by Representative Marlyn Primicias-Agabas has designated Representative Lawrence Lemuel Fortun to head the Technical Working Group (TWG) to consolidate the bills. The TWG comprises various government agencies and non-government organizations representing the solo parent sector.
On August 31, 2016, Gabriela Party List and the Makabayan Bloc in the House of Representatives submitted House Bill 3398 which aims to grant additional benefits to solo parents.
Among the salient points of the bill are:
– Discount from all purchases of clothing materials for the child for purchases made within a period of up to twelve (12) years from the child’s birth;
– Twenty percent (20%) discount from all purchases of baby’s milk, food and food supplements for purchases made within a period of three (3) years from the child’s birth;
– Twenty percent (20%) discount from all purchases of medicines, vaccines and other medical supplements/supplies for the child for purchases made within a period of eighteen (18) years from the child’s birth;
– Twelve percent (12%) discount from all purchases of basic necessities;
– Fifteen percent (15%) discount from all purchases of school supplies for the child for purchases made within a period of twenty one (21) years from the child’s birth;
– Ten percent (10%) discount from school tuition fees per child who are in the college level, be it private and public colleges and universities and or private high school, applicable existing scholarships;
– At least twenty percent (20%) discount from hospital bill of the solo parent or his/her child if admitted for medical care or attention, be it private or public hospital;
– At least ten percent (10%) discount in consultation and laboratory diagnostic fees, and purchase of medicines to solo parents and their dependents;
– Basic personal exemption from individual income tax in the amount of fifty thousand pesos (P 50,000) in addition to the existing exemption that the single parent may claim for their dependent child or children;
– At least twenty percent (20%) discount from all private and public recreational facilities provided that the discount will be availed when the solo parent and their dependents are together; and,
– Availment of seven day parental leave with pay for solo parents who have rendered at least six (6) months of service. #