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Solo Parents: Aquino gov’t should implement RA 8972

Although long been passed in year 2000, the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000 or Republic Act 8972 has yet to be completely implemented by the national and local governments, according to Carina Javier, president of the Solo Parents Support Group at the Department of Social Welfare and Development-Central Office (DSWD-CO), in a recent report.

RA 8972 is an act that provides special benefits and privileges to solo or single parents and their children, which include livelihood assistance, counseling services, education scholarships or discounts, flexible work schedule, additional work leaves, and health or medical assistance, among others.

But not everyone knows that such act even exists, Javier said. Apart from that, some solo parents could not avail of said benefits in spite of being entitled to it under Philippine laws.

An example, she said, is the seven-day leave of a solo parent that is separate from the normal vacation or sick leaves.

“It is high time for the government to focus on the real situation and real needs and concerns of solo parents because the problem of solo parents creates other problems such as poverty, lack of employment, children deprived of education and juvenile delinquents,” Javier was quoted in the report.

Her group is also requesting the Aquino administration to come up with a law reducing the taxes on solo parents by 20 percent, as well as discounting on tuition fees of their children who are 17 years old and below enrolling in private schools.

Who are Solo Parents?

Those unmarried, separated, annulled, and widowed are considered solo parents. Even rape victims who decided to keep the child, and those whose spouse are detained or are physically or mentally incapacitated are included in the group.

Statistics on solo parents

Javier disclosed that the DSWD has no survey yet on the number of Filipino solo parents. However, she believes that the statistic is increasing.

A study conducted by the Department of Health and the University of the Philippines-National Institute for Health revealed that 14 million out of approximately 94 million Filipinos are solo parents, or which is about 14-15 percent of the total population. The World Health Organization funded the said study.

The report also revealed that about 180,290 families that are beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the current administration are headed by solo parents.

House Bill 6184 expands benefits

Two months ago, it has been reported that around 13.9 million solo parents will be given added relief in response to House Bill 6184 that was approved by the House of Representatives.

The HB 6184, according to partylist Representative Carol Jayne Lopez of the You Against Corruption and Poverty (YACAP) in a Manila Bulletin report, “will amend the Solo Parent Welfare Act of 2000 by extending wide ranging benefits for solo parents, including the grant of discounts on certain commodities.” It also aims to expand the “qualification of solo parent to persons left to take the responsibility of parenthood due to the disability or incapacity of the other spouse.”

With the new house bill, solo parents will also enjoy additional benefits such as “10 percent discount on children’s clothing materials for all purchases made within two years from the birth of the child; 15 percent discount on baby’s milk and food supplements in the first two years of a child; and 15 percent discount on all purchases of medicine and other medical supplements or supplies.”

But for solo parents to be able to avail of these benefits, they shall present the solo parent identification card, along with the birth certificate of their child, or whatever evidence is necessary to prove entitlement, to commercial establishments or government agencies they will transact with.

Lopez, who has been a staunch advocate of the causes of solo parents, is one of the principal authors of the said bill and a solo parent herself.

She urged the Aquino administration to support the bill, with a reminder how former President Cory Aquino became a solo parent, too, after the assassination of former Senator Ninoy Aquino.

“We can therefore say her son President Aquino clearly understands the enormous challenges facing solo parents who are raising their families by themselves,” she said in the Manila Bulletin report.

Violators of said bill will face fines of up to P200,000 and jail term of not less than one year.