By Mario Casayuran
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has pushed for the amendment of Republic Act (RA) 8972 that would grant better benefits and privileges for solo parents and their children.
In his co-sponsorship speech, Go expressed his support in amending the current Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000 (RA 8972) as he cited the hardships faced by solo parents in raising their families.
“Alam nating lahat na ang pagiging solo parent ay hindi madali. Solo parents are both the breadwinners and caregivers of their families,” Go said. (Everybody knows the hardships of being a solo parent which is not easy.)
“As such, they should be acknowledged appropriately. As the law now stands, the privileges and benefits awarded to them are insufficient and show a lack of understanding for the complexity of their needs,” he added.
The bill states that the government should develop a comprehensive program called Package of Social Protection Services for solo parents and their children.
“The enhancements introduced to the law aim to provide redress for some 14 million solo parents in the country who are saddled with the hardship of raising their children single-handedly. As sought by this measure, more benefits and privileges will be given to them to ease their burden,” Go said.
Various government agencies are required to be involved in this program to carry out services and advocate for solo parents, including the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH), and Philippine Commission on Women, to name a few.
Some of the benefits that solo parents will enjoy once this bill is enacted into law include additional financial assistance, especially for the poor and indigent solo parents, and discounts on basic necessities and commodities as classified by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the DOH.
“These additional benefits include providing solo parents with special discounts on basic purchases, such as clothes, baby’s milk and food, and medicine. Children of solo parents will also be entitled to tuition fee discount from public and private schools,” the Senator explained.
To further help solo parents in their working environment, the bill also aims to provide a seven-day parental leave with pay for all solo parents working in the government or private sector, a comprehensive package of social protection services, such as livelihood development services and counseling services.
“Employment benefits are also included in the proposal. Under the existing law, solo parent employees who have rendered service of at least one year shall be granted parental leave of not more than seven working days. The proposed measure lowers the required length of service to six months instead and specifies that the leave should be granted ‘with pay’,” Go emphasized adding that more penal provisions are also included in the amendment to ensure compliance with the law.
The lady lawmaker also believes that pushing for such measures to support solo parents in the Philippines strengthens the country’s aspirations for a stronger and more inclusive nation.
“I am pushing for these amendments to the existing law to cater to as many solo parents as possible, to help them build a stronger family, and to support them as productive members of society,” Go said.
Go also reminded that this measure has always been a priority of President Duterte and was even mentioned in his State of the Nation Address last year.
“Hinihikayat ko ang aking mga kasamahan dito sa Senado na ipasa ito sa lalong madaling panahon. Pakitaan natin ng tunay na malasakit ang ating mga kababayan na patuloy nilang itinataguyod mag-isa ang kanilang mga pamilya,’’ he said. (I am encouraging my colleagues in the Senate to pass this measure in the soonest possible time. Let us show genuine support to our countrymen who are solo parents and alone by themselves continue to support and provide for their respective families.)