Senate approves on second reading bill expanding solo parents’ benefits
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate approved on second reading on Monday a bill seeking to amend the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000 to expand its range of benefits and coverage.
Senate Bill No. 1411 — the proposed Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act — was approved before the plenary, with some key amendments made by Senators Pia Cayetano and Risa Hontiveros.
One amendment widened the scope of who may be considered a solo parent. In the case of overseas workers, the solo parent could be a guardian, perhaps a relative, of their child or children.
A previous bill only considered the spouses of overseas workers as solo parents.
Even before the bill was amended, SB No. 1411 already introduced important changes in who can be considered as solo parents and what benefits they could get. For example, part of the original law’s Section 3 would be amended to include grandparents who have the sole parental responsibility for their grandchildren.
The same provision states that grandparents who are also senior citizens are entitled to receive benefits both under the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act of 2020 and the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2003.
SB No. 1411 also placed safeguards on possible abuse, as unmarried partners are not automatically considered as solo parents should they have a child.
As early as 2020, Hontiveros was calling on her colleagues to pass the bill, as the lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the pressure and problems faced by solo parents.
Under the bill, solo parents can enjoy a 20% discount on the “medical needs of the child, the child’s basic necessities, diapers until age 3, hospital bills of both the solo parent and the child, and the child’s tuition fees from kindergarten until college”.
Aside from this, solo parents are entitled to an additional seven days of parental leave, on top of regular leave credits under the current laws.
Last Jan. 19, the House of Representatives approved on third reading a counterpart bill that would also provide discounts, albeit smaller, to similar purchases.
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