by Margaret Ann Bettina Papag
LOS BAÑOS, LAGUNA – The Municipal Social Welfare Development Office (MSWDO) of Los Baños announced its solo parent ID application last April 30, 2021.
The solo parent ID aims to give benefits and privileges for solo parents. According to The Philippine Commission on Women (2000), such benefits and privileges are: seven days’ leave, skills training for different government agencies, medical assistance, and housing and educational benefits.
Solo parents may apply for the solo parent ID at the MSWDO located inside the left portion of the Municipality of Los Baños.
According to Hanna Laviña, MSWDO Los Baños Head, the solo parent ID application takes only one week to process.
“Halimbawa naman ay kailangang kailangan [na ng aplikante ng solo parent ID] at kasusubmit lang [ng requirements], nag-iisyu na kami ng certification na sila ay subject for validation ng assessment para ma-isyuhan ng solo parent ID,” Laviña said in an interview.
As of March 2022, there are 311 solo parent ID applicants.
One of the solo parent ID holders is Andrea Dungo, a mother with one dependent and applied for the ID last 2018.
“More on financial assistance, ayun lang, pero sa mga discounts, wala pa para sa mga bata,” Dungo answered when asked about the benefits of the solo parent ID.
Another solo parent ID holder is Jessica Eusebio, a mother with three children and applied for the ID last 2019.
“Mayroon naman, kasi nung nakaraang pandemya, nakatulong naman [ang ID] kasi nagkaroon ng kaunting ayuda sa mga solo parent,” Eusebio said when asked about the changes on experiences in supporting the family using the solo parent ID.
Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000
According to the Official Gazette of the Philippines (2000), Republic Act No. 8972 or Solo Parents’ Welfare act of 2000 is “an act providing for benefits and privileges to solo parents and their children, appropriating funds therefor and for other purposes.”
The solo parent ID covers such benefits stated in the law, and other benefits include services and programs both government and non-government agencies offer for solo parents.
Section 3 or Definition of Terms of R.A. 8972 defines the meaning of solo parent, children, parental responsibility, parental leave, and flexible work schedule.
Solo parents are individuals who: gave birth due to rape and other chastities, are left solo due to death of spouse, have a detained spouse for at least one year, have a spouse with physical and/or mental incapacities, separated with their spouse for at least one year, declared annulment, were abandoned by their spouse for at least one year, have unmarried mother/father and kept their child/children, are any person giving parental care to a child/children, and any family member who assumes responsibility of being head of the family due to death, abandonment, disappearance or prolonged absence of parent/solo parent.
Children are dependents of solo parents with 18 years of age or those who have physical/mental disabilities over 18 years.
Parental responsibility is the rights and duties of parents with respect to their minor children also defined in Article 220 of Executive Order No. 209 or “Family Code of the Philippines.”
Parental leave are benefits granted to solo parents for their parental duties and responsibilities which require physical presence, and flexible work schedule is the rights of solo parents to have varied arrival and departure time at work without affecting the core work hours of their employers.
Moreover, the National Statistics Authority (NSA) stated under criteria for support in 2008 that solo parents who fall below the income poverty threshold are given parental leave, medical assistance, and educational and housing benefits, while solo parents who are above the income poverty threshold are given benefits of flexible work schedule and parental leave only.
Shortcomings of R.A. 8972 and Solo Parents’ Experiences
Laviña stated that 21 years have passed since R.A. 8972 was signed and the law still needs to be amended.
“Si Solo Parent [Act] ay year 2000 pa siya [naitatag], never pa siyang na-amend, so marami na dapat talagang baguhin [at] idagdag,” Laviña said.
“Ba’t ba namin binanggit na dapat na ay tumaas ‘yung age nung mga anak? Kasi syempre once na ang solo parent ay active pa ring registered sa amin, maa-avail niya ‘yung mga benefits tulad na lang ng additional 7 days leave na pwede niyang magamit, lalo na sa mga activity ng kanyang mga anak, pagkakasakit ng kanyang anak, so basta para sa mga bata, sa mga anak niya, mae-enjoy niya ‘yung 7 days leave,” Laviña said on the adjustment of age of solo parent dependents. “At the same time, ‘yung pagkakaron nya ng flexible time lalo na kung ang mga anak ay may activities sa school, merong may sakit sa mga anak, o kaya may kailangang i-attend na emergency, so, kailangan ay naka-flexible ang time ng isang solo parent.”
Moreover, Eusebio expressed her experiences in services she cannot get using the solo parent ID.
One of the problems of R.A. 8972 is the age limit of solo parent dependents of until 18 years old.
“‘Yung sa pagbili ng gamot, hindi siya pwede[ng gamitin], tsaka ‘yung sa fast food hindi rin, kasi dati kapag ‘yung halimbawa, sa school, kapag ilan ang anak mo, tapos solo parent ka, may libreng isa [sa tuition], ngayon wala na eh,” Eusebio said.
Importance of Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act
According to the Senate of the Philippines, Senate Bill No. 1411 or Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Law is a “comprehensive package of social protection for solo parents,” including different services regardless of financial status.
The S.B. 1411, which the Senate ratified for outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval, includes other benefits which give importance to abused solo parents, overseas Filipino workers, and solo parent dependents with 22 years of age.
Moreover, according to Lolito Bariring, MSWDO Federation President, R.A. 8972 should be expanded to give support to poor solo parents.
“Ang nakakagamit lang [ng ID] ay yung mga regular na may trabaho, pa’no ‘yung walang trabaho na member ng solo parent [federation]?” Bariring said.
As solo parents wait for S.B. 1411 approval for the security of their future, the MSWDO continues its application for the solo parent ID.