Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla has advised Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Erwin T. Tulfo against sending letters to “negligent fathers” to demand financial support for their children.
“Undoubtedly, the intention is noble; however, the act of doing so may be beyond the DSWD’s mandate for it may already constitute providing legal service to the minor child/children, which function legally belongs to some other agencies of the government, like the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO),” Remulla said in the DOJ’s legal opinion sought by Tulfo.
“Moreover, only the courts can legally compel those fathers to give financial support to their children pursuant to a case filed for that purpose,” he pointed out.
Remulla cited that DSWD’s 2022 Citizen’s Charter states: “The [DSWD] is the primary government agency mandated to develop, implement and coordinate social protection and poverty-reduction solutions for and with the poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged.”
“In the alternative, the DSWD may assist these minors who are not receiving financial support from their respective fathers in seeking legal service so they can properly obtain the financial support which are entitled to receive under the law,” he advised Tulfo.
“The DSWD may very well refer these matters to the PAO or other pertinent agencies, or even to some organization and/or institutions providing legal aid, so that their cases may be acted upon,” he added.
Should the DSWD decide to send out the letters, Remulla said: “We strongly advise that the text of the letter should only be factual in nature without biases, and caution against using language that creates the impression to the recipient that the DSWD is lawyering on behalf of the minors.”
He cautioned against a letter that warns the recipient that “there are civil and criminal consequences under the law if financial support is not properly given.”
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