Two senators urged the passage of proposed measures seeking to amend Republic Act (RA) 8972, or the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000, to provide solo parents with greater benefits.
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said providing additional benefits to solo parents is a way of giving proper recognition and understanding to the difficulties they face in single-handedly raising their families.
“I am pushing for these amendments to be included in 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 during the Senate hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality.
“Solo parents are both the breadwinners and caregivers of their families, and 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 said.
Go said the amendments he is pushing under Senate Bill (SB) 206 aims to provide redress for some 14 million solo parents.
These include granting solo parents amnesty or reduction in real estate and inheritance taxes, and an additional PHP50,000 to their exemption from individual income tax.
The bill will also grant them additional special discounts on purchases, such as 10 percent for clothes for babies up to two years old; 15 percent for baby’s milk and food up to two years old; and 15 percent for medicine up to five years old.
It also provides children of solo parents a 10-percent tuition fee discount from public and private schools from grade one to college and a 20-percent discount for school supplies until 21 years old.
Before solo parents could avail themselves of the privileges, however, Go said they must apply for a Solo Parent Identification Card from the Local Social Welfare and Development Office and present the card to the companies and establishments from whom discounted purchases are made.
The companies and establishments are likewise allowed to claim discounts as part of their business expense.
“Employment benefits are also included in my 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. My proposed measure lowers the required length of service to six months instead and specifies that the leave should be granted with pay,” Go said.
To benefit as many deserving Filipinos as possible, SB 206 also expanded the definition of a solo parent.
Under RA 8972, parents who are covered are those who have been left solo due to separation from the spouse or abandonment of the spouse for at least one year. SB 206 proposes the required time be reduced to six months.
Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros sought to grant solo parents seven additional days of parental leave annually through her SB 164.
Chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality, Hontiveros said the additional paid parental leave would be on top of leave privileges under present laws.
Aside from the additional seven days of paid parental leave, SB 164 also entitles solo parents to a 20-percent discount on goods and services in private establishments, costs of child care, and on tuition fees per child.
It also mandates government and private companies with more than 100 employees to create daycare facilities.
“Raising a child is daunting, but raising a child alone constitutes a specific set of challenges and difficulties. Solo parents play multiple difficult roles,” Hontiveros said.”My proposal is to ensure that our solo parents are given enough support to take care of our children well.”
Hontiveros’ bill seeks to expand the definition of solo parents to include spouses of low-income overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are away from the Philippines for an unbroken period of 12 months.
The bill also pushes for the creation of a Solo Parents Affairs Office by the local government and requires every barangay to have a Solo Parents’ Help Desk that can immediately assist solo parents and their children. (PNA)