Senate of the Philippines

Senate passes bill expanding benefits for solo parents

Senate passes bill expanding benefits for solo parents
(2nd UPDATE) The bill expands the definition of solo parents to include the spouses of low- or semi-skilled OFWs and legal guardians recognized by the court

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate passed on final reading a bill that would provide monthly cash subsidies, automatic health insurance coverage, and other additional benefits to Filipino solo parents.

On Monday, December 13, senators voted 22-0-0 in favor of Senate Bill 1411, which would increase the benefits currently provided to solo parents under Republic Act 8972 or the Solo Parents Welfare Act of 2000. 

Under the bill, the definition of a solo parent would be further expanded to also include the following: 

  • The spouse of a low- or semi-skilled overseas Filipino worker who has continuously worked abroad for 12 months or more
  • Foster parents recognized by the Department of Social Welfare and Development
  • Legal guardians acknowledged by the court
  • Relatives who have the sole responsibility for caring for a child

Currently, RA 8972 considers the following as solo parents: 

  • A woman who gives birth as a result of rape and other crimes against chastity
  • Parent whose spouse died
  • Parent whose spouse is detained or is serving sentence for a criminal conviction for at least one year
  • Parent whose spouse was certified by a public medical practitioner as either physically or mentally incapacitated, or both
  • Parent left alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to legal separation or de facto separation from spouse for at least one year
  • Parent whose marriage was annulled and is left with the custody of the children
  • Parent whose spouse abandoned them for at least one year
  • Unmarried mother or father who has preferred to rear his or her children 
  • Any person who solely provides parental care and support to a child
  • Any family member who assumes responsibility of head of family as a result of the death, abandonment, disappearance, or prolonged absence of parents

Under the bill, solo parents would get a 20% discount on infant formula, diapers, medicines, vaccines, medical equipment, food supplements, other basic necessities, hospital bills, and tuition fees of their children.

The bill would also mandate that all solo parents receive a comprehensive package of social protection services, including livelihood opportunities, legal advice and assistance, and counseling. SB 1411 would grant a monthly cash subsidy worth P1,000 to each solo parent. 

Solo parents would also be able to avail of parental leave with a shortened requirement for rendered service. Companies and government offices would also be required to set up daycare centers. 

Solo parents would also automatically qualify for coverage under the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, with premiums to be paid by the government. 

SB 1411 would also prioritize solo parents, particularly solo mothers re-entering the work force, and their children in apprenticeship and scholarship programs of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, but “subject to eligibility and qualifications.”

Must Read

Single mothers: Different faces, same struggles

Senator Risa Hontiveros, a solo parent herself and one of the primary authors of the bill, said the nearing passage of the measure would be a great help for solo parents severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Bukod sa kailangang magtrabaho, biglang kailangan namin maging teacher sa aming anak. ‘Pag may magkasakit, COVID-19 man o hindi, wiped out ang konting ipon at walang kahalili sa gastos. Kaya nga habang may pandemya, lalong mahalagang mapabilis pa ang pagsasabatas nito,” said Hontiveros in a manifestation after SB 1411’s passage.

(Apart from the need to keep on working, we also had to become teachers for our children. If someone gets sick, whether it’s COVID-19 or not, our savings would be wiped out because there’s no one else to shoulder the expenses with us. That’s why, while there is still a pandemic, it’s urgent to pass this bill into law.)

The House passed its own version of the proposed Expanded Solo Parents’ Welfare Act in January. This means both chambers would have to convene a bicameral conference committee to settle conflicting provisions in their respective versions of the measure. 

Both houses of Congress would first have to ratify the reconciled version of the solo parents welfare bill before it could be brought to Malacañang for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature. – Rappler.com