Remulla gives legal opinion on DSWD’s dilemma vs irresponsible fathers
MANILA, Philippines–The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) cannot write to erring fathers reminding them to provide financial support to their children or face corresponding “civil and criminal consequences, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said.
Remulla issued the legal opinion as a response to Social Welfare Secretary Erwin Tulfo’s letter seeking the DOJ’s position if they can legally write a letter to a named father on a child’s birth certificate.
The purpose of the letter is to remind him of his obligation to provide financial support, and that reneging on his obligation has corresponding civil and criminal consequences under Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004.
Remulla said it is true that there is a phrase “there are civil and criminal consequences” under the law if financial support is not “properly given” to include it in the DSWD’s letter will make it appear that it is a demand letter and that the DSWD is lawyering on behalf of the minor child/children.
“Undoubtedly, the intention is noble; however, the act of doing so may be beyond the DSWD’s mandate, for it may already constitute providing legal service to the minor children,” Remulla said.
Instead, the DOJ said the DSWD might extend assistance to the minors who have been neglected by their fathers. in seeking legal services to get the financial support they are entitled to under the law.
Remulla said such a function belongs to the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).
“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.
If DSWD still insists on pushing through with its plan to send letters to the fathers, Remulla said the text of the letter should be factual in nature and without biases.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.