MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Social Welfare and Development cannot write negligent fathers to demand that they provide financial support to their children as this “may be outside” of the DSWD’s mandate, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a legal opinion.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla issued the opinion in response to the letter of Social Welfare Secretary Erwin Tulfo seeking the DOJ’s position on his plan to write and warn fathers that they should provide financial support to their children to avoid legal liabilities.
In the five-page legal opinion, Remulla said the DSWD’s plan might be considered as providing legal service, which is not part of the agency’s mandate. That mandate belongs to legal agencies like the Public Attorneys Office.
“After a careful study and consideration of your query, we note that the proposed act of the DSWD to write a letter to the fathers, presumably on behalf of the minor child/children, to remind them to give financial support, as ‘there are civil and criminal consequences under the law if financial support is not properly given, may be outside of the DSWD’s stated mandate, powers and functions under Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987, and the DSWD Citizen’s Charter of 2022,” Remulla said.
“Moreover, only the courts can legally compel those fathers to give financial support to their child/children pursuant to a case filed for that purpose,” he added.
Tulfo’s query stemmed from reports about fathers who don’t give financial support to their children. The DSWD chief believed that this could be considered a violation of the provisions of Republic Act No. 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004.
Remulla also said that the DSWD may extend assistance to the concerned minors to seek legal services and get financial support.
“The DSWD may very well refer these matters to PAO or other pertinent agencies, or even to some organizations and/or institutions providing legal aid, so that their cases may be acted upon,” Remulla said.
Should the DSWD push through with the plan, Remulla said the letter to be sent to the fathers should be factual and without biases. He also reminded the DSWD not to use language that might be construed that the agency is acting as counsel for the children. – Rappler.com