DSWD chief joins campaign calling for amendment of solo parents law

MANILA-- Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo was among the first to sign the signature campaign that seeks to hasten the amendment of the Solo Parents Law to grant more benefits to solo parents and their children.

According to a media release issued by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Tuesday, this is Taguiwalo's way of showing her solidarity with solo parents, who are considered a vulnerable sector because they carry the sole and heavy responsibility of providing for their children.

All 14 members of the DSWD Executive Committee and 200 department employees have signed the campaign and the papers continue to be passed around, the release said.

The Federation of Solo Parents in Luzvimin, Gabriela Women's Party and Ilaw para sa Kababaihan at Bata will formally launch the signature campaign on Wednesday in celebration of National Women's Month. Gabriela hopes to get a million signatures. More than 1,000 solo parents from Metro Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga, Naga City, Camarines Sur and Tacloban City are expected to join the event.

"I know how difficult it is to be a solo parent, and there is an urgent need for communities and the government, down to the baranggay level, to help them cope with the difficulties of their situation," Taguiwalo said.

She suggested that barangays establish daycare and child minding centers where solo parents can leave their children so they can work.

"We also hope that solo parents, who in many cases were victims of abuse and ridicule of their ex-partners, would no longer suffer from the stigma unjustly brought about by their status," she said.

A study conducted by the Department of Health and the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health in 2007 put the number of solo parents at 14 million out of the 94 million population at that time.

Projections would place the number of solo parents in the country by the end of this year at 20 million, making it one of society's biggest marginalized sectors.

Studies also revealed that solo parents have an average number of two children based on conservative estimates, hence, an estimated 60 million young Filipinos are being raised by solo parents without adequate support from the government.

The Solo Parents Law -- Republic Act 8972 or the Solo Parents Welfare Act of 2000 -- was enacted 16 years ago to help solo parents cope with their situation.

On Aug. 31 last year, Gabriela Party List and the Makabayan Bloc in the House of Representatives submitted Bill 3398.

The bill seeks discounts on clothing materials; baby's milk, food and food supplements; medicines and vaccines; basic necessities; school supplies; and tuition fees in college for the child; as well as on hospital fees, consultation and laboratory diagnostic fees, and medicines for both solo parents and their dependents.

The House bill also seeks a "basic personal exemption from individual income tax in the amount of PHP50,000, in addition to the existing exemption that the single parent may claim for their dependent child or children"; as well as discounts from recreational facilities when the solo parents and their dependents are together, and a seven-day parental leave with pay for solo parents who have rendered at least six months of service.

Source: Philippines News Agency