By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Sunday (June 14) pushed for the passage of a bill that seeks to provide greater benefits for single parents, saying the immediate enactment of the measure into law will help them cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made solo parenting tougher.
Go was referring to the measure which aims to amend the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000, noting how the benefits and privileges granted by the existing law is “not sufficient to provide for the needs of the single parents who are both the breadwinner and the caregiver of the family.”
“I am again calling on fellow lawmakers to consider the passage of this proposed law which seeks to provide additional benefits for our single parents. They need it now especially at the time of a COVID-19 pandemic,” Go said in a statement.
“It is the responsibility of the government to ensure there is enough protection for our solo parents who also belong to the vulnerable sectors of our society,” he added.
The passage of the bill into law, he said, would help some 14 million solo parents in the country, and ease the burden of single-handedly raising their children, noting how the crisis has resulted in massive losses of income opportunities for many people.
Other senators who filed the same measure include Senate President Vicente Sotto III and senators Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Ramon Revilla, Jr. and Imelda “Imee” Marcos. The bill has been consolidated into Senate Bill No. 1411 under Committee Report No. 69.
The bill provides additional financial assistance designed for poor and indigent solo parents as may be determined by proper government agencies, provided “that any solo parent, regardless of the income bracket or financial status, shall enjoy the benefits under the comprehensive package of social protection services, such as, but not limited to, livelihood opportunities, legal advice and assistance, counseling services, parent effectiveness services, critical incidence stress debriefing, and other social projects.”
Under the bill, employers are also mandated to prioritize solo parents when entering into agreements regarding telecommuting.
Go said this is very timely under the “new normal” now that the country has slowly reopened the economy.
The bill also seeks to provide solo parents other privileges, such as a 20 percent discount for infant formula, food, and food supplements for children ages 0-3 years old; medicine, vaccine, and other medical supplements for children ages 0-22 years old; children’s basic necessities; tuition from kindergarten to college; hospital bills; consultation, laboratory fees, diagnostic fees, etc.; and recreational facilities (if the solo parent and the child are together).
Go also said the bill expanded the definition of solo parent to ensure that more people who are deserving of the benefits can avail of the privileges.
Under the current law, Go noted solo parents who are covered are only those who have been left solo due to their separation from the spouse or abandonment of the spouse for at least one year.
The bill, he said, seeks to reduce the required time to six months. Moreover, the inclusion of duly recognized foster parents as solo parents is another amendment introduced in the proposed measure.
“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 despite their situation, and to support them as productive members of society,” Go said.