By Mario Casayuran
Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros today called for her colleagues’ support for the immediate passage of the proposed “Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act’’. She said as raising a child as a solo parent is more difficult in every conceivable aspect than when two parents join hands in raising a child.
This sentiment was contained in Hontiveros’ sponsorship speech of Senate Bill (SB) 1411 on the Senate floor as the session was closed to the public because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
“Financial hardships are common among two-income families. The challenge is even more difficult for a solo parent who is forced to rely only on one income stream, especially now,” she said.
“Considering that there are approximately three million solo parent households, this means that there are almost three million families that are in danger of not being able to fulfill their daily needs,’’ she added.
According to the lady lawmaker, the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act of 2020 (SB 1411) will include a 20 percent discount on medical needs of the child, the child’s basic necessities, diapers until age three, hospital bills of both the solo parent and the child, and the child’s tuition fees from kindergarten until college.
Hontiveros’ bill will also entitle solo parents to an additional seven-day parental leave, on top of leave privileges under existing laws. It also mandates government and private companies with more than 300 employees to create daycare facilities.
The Expanded Solo Parents’ Welfare Bill also seeks to expand the definition of solo parents to include spouses of low-income overseas Filipino workers who are away from the Philippines for an unbroken period of 12 months.
Hontiveros, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, said the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act is even more relevant now, given the amplification of unique hardships experienced by solo parents during the pandemic.
She said balancing livelihood and childcare for solo parents is now “exponentially harder.”
“Bukod sa pag-aalala kung saan sila kukuha ng pangtustos sa pang-araw araw nilang pangangailangan, kailangan din nilang isipin kung sino ang pwedeng takbuhan ng kanilang mga anak kung sakaling sila ay magkasakit o di kaya ay magpositibo sa COVID. Saan sila kukuha ng pangbili ng pagkain? Sino na ang mag-aalaga sa kanilang mga anak?” Hontiveros said. (Aside from worrying where to get funds for their daily needs, they have to think of who they could rely on if they get sick or are found COCID-19 positive. Where will they get the money for their food? Who will take care of their children?)
“We will be facing a lot of changes as we transition out of this quarantine. Our solo parents need a ‘new normal’ that includes them. No one should get left behind,” she explained.