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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Alleviating solo parents’ hardship

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“Indeed, there are cases when the man is the one aggravated by his unfaithful partner who leverages child custody to exact financial support for her own personal fancies”

Despite limited relevant data, there is reason to believe the growing number of single parents represent a significant portion of the impoverished households in the country.

At least 12.6 million or 49 percent of Filipino households consider themselves “poor,” according to the later Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.

Conversely, 51 percent of Pinoy families feel they are not at all poor, and I am confident that these figures will improve as the Marcos administration guns for the country’s upper-middle-class stature by 2028.

The most common case of such single or solo parenthood is that of a mother left with the custody and the responsibility to raise one or more children fathered by a jilted boyfriend or separated husband.

These cases include those resulting from teen pregnancies, one-night stands, extra-marital affairs, failed marriages and broken families.

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This tragic phenomenon that reflect today’s sexual promiscuity as well as fragile family values prompted the 18thCongress to pass Republic Act 11861 titled the “Expanded Solo Parent Welfare Act of 2000.

But in the expanded solo parent act, guardians like uncles and aunts and grandparents can now be considered solo parent.

Also, husbands or wives of OFWs who will be left in the country by their partners for a year or more, can also apply for a solo parent ID.

Last week, the all-important implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the expanded law was signed by yours truly as Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Solo Parent law aims to augment the benefits of the government’s social protection programs and alleviate the predicament of single parents who bear the financial hardship, as well as the daunting task of childcare.

Under the new law, solo parents earning a minimum wage or lower will receive a monthly cash subsidy of P1000 from their respective local government units (LGU), provided they are not already receiving any other cash assistance from the government.

Solo parents who earn less than P250,000 per year are also entitled to a 10 percent discount and exemption from the value-added tax (VAT) on their child’s milk, food, micronutrient supplements, sanitary diapers, duly prescribed medicines, vaccines, and other medical supplements from the birth of the child until they turn six years old.

Solo parents will also be prioritized in the selection of new beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) with children in school, provided their income is within or below the poverty threshold; and the Sustainable Livelihood Program of the Department.

They will get prioritized in low-cost housing projects through the National Housing Authority; automatic coverage under PhilHealth’s National Health Insurance program; and access to scholarships and other educational programs of the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

In complement of the implementation of the Solo Parents law, I have signed a memorandum of agreement with the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) for a speedy legal action against “deadbeat dads,” or fathers who fail to support their children financially.

In partnership with PAO, the DSWD will refer the complaint of a single mother to PAO for legal consultation free of charge and possible filing of criminal charges against the father for depriving financial support to their children.

The negligent parent, either father or mother, who abandons his or her children in the care of the spouse or relative, include overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who stopped supporting their families despite their gainful jobs abroad.

They are usually OFWs who get involved in other relationships or engaged in gambling or drugs or, vice-versa, those who discover their spouse’s cheating and supporting another partner to the detriment of children’s welfare.

Indeed, there are cases when the man is the one aggravated by his unfaithful partner who leverages child custody to exact financial support for her own personal fancies.

DSWD’s marriage counselors and PAO lawyers will help these troubled families settle amicably for the benefit of the children whose legal rights and interests the Solo Parent law aims to uphold.

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