DSWD appeals for more benefits, support for the country’s solo parents

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), under its new leadership, has pledged to assist solo parents, considered as among the disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors of society.

"Kailangang nating paigtingin at palawakin ang kampanya para sa adbokasiya at pagpapatupad ng mga kaukulang programa para sa mga solo parents o yung mga mag-isang nagpapalaki ng anak o mga anak (We need to intensify and broaden the advocacy campaign and implement appropriate programs for solo parents, those who are raising their child/children alone)," DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo said.

"Marami pa ding mamamayan, lalo na sa lokal na lebel ang hindi tunay na nakakaalam ng mga probisyon ng RA 8972 o ng Solo Parents Welfare Act of 2000, katulad na lamang ng maling paniniwala na ang may mga trabaho lamang na solo parents ang dapat isyuhan ng ID para maka-avail sila ng 7-day parental leave. Malinaw sa batas na lahat ng lehitimong solo parents, may trabaho man o wala, ay dapat isyuhan ng ID upang maka-access sila sa mga benipisyong nakapaloob dito (There are still several citizens, especially at the local level who do not know the provisions of RA 8972 or the Solo Parents Welfare Act of 2000, like the wrong perception that only working solo parents should be issued IDs so they can avail of the 7-day parental leave.

It is clear in the law that all legitimate solo parents, whether they have or do not have jobs, should be issued IDs so they can access the benefits integrated here)," Sec. Taguiwalo expounded.

According to the National Statistics Office, there are 14 million solo parents in the Philippines. On the other hand, data from the DSWD using the 2nd Impact Assessment of Listahanan, (the agency's database showing who and where the poor are) indicate that of the 15.1 million households assessed, 1.8 million have a solo parent member. This is equivalent to 11.9% of the households assessed.

Other significant facts on solo parents are:

" Around 558, 014 or 31.1 % of the poor households assessed has a solo parent member.

" Listahanan also recorded a total of 2.0 million individual solo parents. Of this number, 623,746 are classified as 'Poor' and 1,420,047 as 'Non-Poor'

" Listahanan data also showed that ARMM has the highest number of solo parents, particularly poor solo parents, while NCR has the highest number of non-poor solo parents

" As the lead agency in the implementation of R.A. 8972, solo parents as part of the disadvantaged sector that needs urgent attention/ intervention was catered by the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, which seeks to break the inter-generational cycle of poverty by investing in human capital, specifically children and youth up to 18 years old.

" As of 25 May 2016, 276,432 or 6.27% of the Pantawid Pamilya households have members with solo parents. ARMM has the largest number of households with solo parents (31,617 households).

" The DSWD also consolidated the results of the Solo Parents Survey at the Local Government Unit (LGU) Level. Initial results for nine (9) regions showed that 29,219 solo parents were issued IDs while 21,266 were provided services (DSWD-Protective Services Bureau data as of 2012)

" Services provided include counselling; provision of financial, emergency, medical and burial assistance; livelihood and skills enhancement; scholarship and educational grants; legal; Philhealth assistance; and, temporary shelter.

Advocacy campaign

Sec. Taguiwalo stressed that there is really a need to conduct a massive advocacy campaign including orientation activities on RA 8972 for LGUs, down to the barangay level.

"Inaamin naming may mga pagkukulang sa pagpapatupad at pagmomonitor ng batas subalit sa administrasyong Duterte ay pagsisikapan naming mapagtuunan ng pansin ang sektor na ito ng lipunan na matagal nang napabayaan (We admit there are limitations in the implementation and monitoring of the law. However, under the Duterte administration, we will endeavor to focus our attention on this sector of our society)," Sec. Taguiwalo emphasized.

"Tunay na mahirap magpalaki ng mga anak mag-isa kaya't nararapat lamang na maranasan din ng mga solong magulang ang tunay na malasakit at mapagkalingang serbisyo (It is truly hard to raise children on your own so it is just proper that solo parents experience true compassion and caring services)," she continued.

Benefits

When RA 8972 took effect more than a decade ago, the DSWD was tasked to lead an inter-agency body which shall oversee the implementation and monitoring of the law.

On the other hand, under the Local Government Code, the local government units, specifically, the Local Social Welfare and Development Offices (LSWDOs) are mandated to provide frontline services for their vulnerable constituents, including solo parents.

The law specifies that any solo parent whose income in the place of domicile falls below the poverty threshold as set by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and subject to the assessment of the local social worker shall be eligible for assistance.

Moreover, any solo parent whose income is above the poverty threshold shall enjoy benefits such as flexible working schedule, freedom from work discrimination on account of his/her status, and availment of the 7-day parental leave.

A solo parent can directly inquire from the following agencies to avail of their services:

" Health Services (DOH)

" Educational Services (CHED, TESDA)

" Housing (NHA)

" Parental Leave (Employer, DOLE, CSC)

" Health Services (DOH)

" Educational Services (CHED, TESDA)

" Housing (NHA)

" Parental Leave (Employer, DOLE, CSC)

Appeal from solo parents organizations

In a related development, Carina Javier, President of the DSWD Central Office Solo Parents Support Group and the United Solo Parents of the Philippines (USPP), the umbrella organization of 14 existing and recognized solo parent associations nationwide, appealed to LGUs.

"Huwag sanang gawing kumplikado ang proseso ng pagkuha ng solo parents identification card o SP ID para hindi na mahirapan ang mga solo parents sa pagsumite ng mga requirements. May mga natatanggap kasi kaming reklamo sa aming Facebook page na kung anu-anung dokumento ang hinihingi sa kanila, katulad ng voters ID, na hindi naman kailangan, at yung iba naman ay pinababalik-balik sa LSWDO dahil wala daw yung focal person (We hope that they will not complicate the process of applying for SP ID so the solo parents will not have a hard time in submitting the requirements. We have been receiving complaints in our Facebook page that various documents are required from them, such as voters ID, which is not needed, while the others are made to return to the LSWDO because the focal person is not around), " Javier said.

"Umaasa kami na sa bagong administrasyon at liderato, ay mapagtutuunan na din ng pansin ang aming sektor at makakamit na din namin ang matagal na naming mga kahilingan, lalong lalo na ang pag-amyenda sa RA 8972 (We are hoping that under the new administration and leadership, our sector will finally be given attention, and our requests will be granted, particularly the amendments to RA 8972.)," she said.

Source: Philippine Information Agency