Bong Go bill pushes for more benefits for solo parents
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go urged his fellow senators on Monday, Jan. 20, to support the bill that he had filed seeking to amend the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000 (Republic Act No. 8972) to give more benefits to solo parents.
“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 public hearing conducted by the Committee on Women, Children and Family Relations and Gender Equality with the Senate Committees on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development; Finance; Health and Demography; and Ways and Means.
“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,” the Go explained.
“The enhancements I have introduced to the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act aim to provide redress for some 14 million solo parents who are saddled by the double hardship of raising their children. They will infuse more benefits and privileges to the solo parent which will ease the burden of single-handedly raising his or her children,” he added.
If passed into law, Go’s proposal — Senate Bill No. 206 — would give solo parents amnesty or reduction in real estate and inheritance taxes and add P50,000 to their exemption from individual income tax.
The bill will also grant them additional special discounts on purchases, such as 10% on clothes for babies up to 2 years old, 15% on baby’s milk and food for babies up to 2 years old, and 15% on medicine for children up to 5 years old.
According to the proposed amendments of Go, children of solo parents will also enjoy a 10% tuition discount in public and private schools from grade one to college and a 20% discount on school supplies until 21 years old.
Before solo parents could avail themselves of the privileges, however, they must apply for a Solo Parent Identification Card at 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,” Go said. “Under the existing law, solo parent employees who have rendered service of at least one year shall be granted a 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.’”
“Further, I included penal provisions among my amendments in order to ensure compliance with the dictates of the law. Para mas makatulong talaga itong batas sa mga solo parents natin,” he added.
A fine of P200,000 or imprisonment of up to two years will be imposed on “any person, corporation, entity or agency which refuses or fails to provide the benefits granted to solo parents.”
Wanting the bill to benefit as many deserving Filipinos as possible, Go expanded the definition of solo parent in SB 206.
Solo parent is defined under Section 3 as any individual who falls under any of the following categories:
- “A woman who gives birth as a result of rape and other crimes against chastity, even without a final conviction of the offender; provided, that the mother keeps and raises the child;
- “Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to death of spouse;
- “Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood while spouse is detained or is serving sentence for a criminal conviction for at least one (1) year;
- “Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to physical and/or mental incapacity of spouse as certified by a public medical practitioner;
- “Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to legal separation or de facto separation from spouse for at least six (6) months, provided he/she is entrusted with the custody of the children;
- “Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage as decreed by a court or by a church, provided he/she is entrusted with the custody of the children;
- “Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to abandonment of spouse for at least six (6) months;
- “Unmarried mother/father who has preferred to keep and rear his/her child/children; who has actual custody of the said child/children, instead of having others care for them or giving them up to a welfare institution;
- “Any other person who bears sole parental responsibility a child or children, including a foster parent duly-recognized by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, a legal guardian appointed by the court or a legal single adoptive parent; and
- “Any family member who assumes the responsibility as the head of the family resulting from the death, abandonment, disappearance or prolonged absence of the parents or 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. The required time is reduced to 6 months in SB 206.
The inclusion of duly recognized foster parents is another amendment introduced in SB 206.
Go also reminded his colleagues that President Rodrigo Duterte called for the passage of the measure in his State of the Nation Address in July 2019.
“Ito ay isang priority measure ng ating mahal na Pangulo na binanggit niya noong SONA niya, kaya hinihikayat ko ang aking mga kasamahan dito sa Senado na ipasa ito sa lalong madaling panahon,” Go said.
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