The new law granting additional benefits to solo parents would not only help them provide assistance needed to properly raise their children, but also reduce the impact of inflation given the increasing commodity and fuel prices, a legislator said.
Agusan del Norte Representative Lawrence Fortun, author of the law, said the Expanded Solo Parents Act scales up the cash and non-cash benefits soon to become available to persons who singlehandedly support a dependent or entire family.
“We did what was doable to help solo parents cope with rising costs of living,” Fortun said.
“The law made it easier for solo parents to qualify for seven days of paid work leave by shortening the qualification to six months as an employee instead of one year.”
The lawmaker noted that the law made it easier for solo parents to qualify for seven days of paid work leave by shortening the qualification to six months as an employee instead of one year.
He said the monthly cash aid to solo parents earning minimum wage or less is P1,000, which would “effectively” augment the income of solo parents.
The 10-percent discount on purchases of key items for babies’ needs until they reach age 6 “will help ease the impact of inflation”, he added.
Fortun said the educational scholarship grants for the solo parent and for one dependent would also be of substantial help to slash education costs.
“Solo parents are a segment of the marginalized and vulnerable sectors of society.”
“Solo parents are a segment of the marginalized and vulnerable sectors of society. But because they are able to work or eke out a livelihood, the social safety net for them is significant but different from those of senior citizens and persons with disabilities,” he stressed.
Fortun urged local government units to maintain a proper list of their solo parent residents, stressing the need of having correct, updated, and secure data on citizens.
He also expressed hope that the 19th Congress will amend the Philippine Identification System Act so that the supporting database for the national ID would recognize or identify solo parents, persons with disabilities, and seniors and contain key related data so the ID can be used for claiming benefits due to them under various laws.
Under the new law, the definition of “solo parents” is expanded to include spouses or any family member of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are in the low/semi-skilled category and are away from the Philippines for an unbroken period of 12 months.
An amendment also includes grandparents and family members or qualified guardians who bear sole responsibility over the child.
The law directs the Department of Social Welfare and Development secretary, in coordination with other agencies, to develop a “comprehensive package” of social protection services for solo parents and their families which includes livelihood opportunities, legal advice and assistance, counseling services, parent effectiveness services, and stress debriefing, among others, regardless of financial status.
The DSWD, in coordination with the Department of the Interior and Local Government must also establish and maintain a “centralized database” of all solo parents who have been issued solo parent identification cards or booklets.
The law adds a section declaring the third week and third Saturday of April of every year as Solo Parents Week and National Solo Parents Day, respectively.
Republic Act 11861 is a consolidation of Senate Bill 1411 and House Bill 8097 that were passed on January 24.