Solo Parents Need Expanded Gov't Aid, More So During COVID: Senator

Senator call for swift passage of expanded solo parents bill.
Photo/s: Shutterstock

Single mom Vicky Peñaranda saw the pandemic shutter her only source of income, an internet shop that had to close because of the world's longest quarantine. Her hardships underscores why single parents need additional help from the state, according to an advocate lawmaker.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros is the proponent of the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act which seeks to provide a 20% discount on child-rearing expenses such as diapers and hospital fees (including that of the solo parent) and tuition from kindergarten to college.

It seeks an additional seven-day parental leave for solo parents on top of current leave privileges provided by law. Government and private companies with more than 300 employees are mandated under the bill to create daycare facilities.

Hontiveros said she hoped the measure would ease the burden of solo parents like herself and Peñaranda.

"Naniniwala ako na kailangan talagang suportahan ng estado tayong mga ka-solo," she said. "Sana ay mapagtulungan natin itong batas na ito."

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In a Zoom call hosted by Hontiveros' office, Peñaranda said: "Wala na akong napagkakakitaan. Nakaapekto sa aking pagkatao kung paano ko masusuportahan ang gastusin ng mga anak ko."

"Mas nahihirapan ako kung paano ko maiba-budget ang pera at nag-aalala rin ako kung mag-positive ako, paano na ang aking mga anak?" she said.

Who are considered solo parents under the bill?

Senate Bill 1411 seeks to amend RA 8972, or the Solo Parent's Welfare Act, which was enacted more than 20 years ago. The measure is currently pending approval on second reading.

Taking into consideration the changing circumstances of Filipino single parents, the bill aims to expand the definition of solo parents to include spouses of low-income overseas Filipino workers who are away from the Philippines for an unbroken period of 12 months.

The bill also recognizes as a solo parent any person who bears solo parental responsibility over a child or children, including foster parents recognized by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, a court-appointed legal guardian, or a legal single adoptive parent.

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