Sotto now finds cause in plight of solo parents
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III found himself pushing support for solo parents after his controversial “na-ano lang” remark about Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo that led to his bashing on social media.
“It’s a blessing in disguise that the issue has been blown out of proportion because there’s more attention to it,” Sotto said of his meeting on Tuesday with officers of the Federation of Solo Parents in Luzvimin (FSPL) at his office in the Senate.
Sotto was vilified on social media last week after he joked about Taguiwalo’s having children out of wedlock during her confirmation hearing at the Commission on Appointments.
The comedian-turned-politician apologized immediately to Taguiwalo, who accepted it.
“This is moving on, so to speak, on the issue that was brought up by the controversy,” Sotto told reporters after meeting with the federation representing about 80,000 solo parents.
Solo Parents Welfare Act
He assured the group that before December, he would push for the passage of amendments to Republic Act No. 8972, or the Solo Parents Welfare Act of 2000.
The bill has been languishing in Congress for almost 17 years.
“We will seriously work on it and ask for the support of other members of Congress,” Sotto said. “They (solo parents) should be given their own space in society.”
FSPL president Carina Javier said the group had wanted her to make a strongly worded statement against Sotto following the controversy.
But she noted that Sotto had already apologized to Taguiwalo and that the secretary had accepted it.
“Who are we to blow it out of proportion? We want to move forward,” Javier said. She has pleaded with members to stop bashing the senator and not drag his family into the controversy.
She said the controversy had led to people paying attention to the plight of solo parents.
“This is a great opportunity for us to push amendments. Let’s move on. Let’s focus on the positive. It’s a blessing in disguise,” she added.
Discounts, national week
Javier said the amendments that FSPL was seeking included discounts on medicine, laboratory and hospitalization fees, tuition, milk and vitamins for solo parents and their children.
The group also wanted an office in every local government unit that would attend to their needs like seniors and persons with disabilities, and proclaiming a national day and national week for solo parents.
A majority of the solo parents in the country are women
—those who had been married, are widows or have been abandoned by spouses, according to Javier.
Javier, an employee of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, earlier described Taguiwalo as the only DSWD head who has given 100-percent support to solo parents.
Until Sotto was embroiled in the controversy, the federation did not think of approaching the senator for help in pushing the passage of the measure, its president said. —WITH A REPORT FROM DONA Z. PAZZIBUGAN