LOUD WHISPERS| Republic Act 8972: Solo parents act must be amended

THERE is now a bill in Congress seeking to amend Republic Act 8972 known as the Solo Parents Welfare Act of 2000.

     There is an organization of this unique sector of our society who by themselves,   as leaders, are now lobbying for additional proposed amendments : 1) allocation of one percent from the BIR allotment of local governments for programs, projects, services benefitting so parents and their children; 2) creation of an office of solo parents in every province, municipality; 3) provision of full scholarship up to the tertiary level to at least one child of a solo parent 4) equal access to employment and educational opportunities.

     But I opine, there are more to ask from government on the welfare of solo parents, that is, firstly, they should not be deprived of venturing into investment opportunities or long-term business entrepreneurship (other than mere employment) and secondly, they should not be deprived of possessing any form of property; thirdly, they should not be deprived of borrowing loans and credits from banks which means that government should set policies for banks on easier and faster payment schemes of loans applied for by solo parents; and the child of the unwed mother should not be deprived of a legitimate name of the child.

     Anywhere else I this country, do we see some families with single mother or single father in one home; and of course, with the single mother or couple, we cannot disassociate the child that has borne. So this single parenthood family becomes the extended family of the parents of the single mother or single father.

     When I was still a teacher at the Davao City High School, I could recall how one of our best teachers suffered criticism, shame, embarrassment, and discrimination from her co-teachers. Why? Because of the rumor that her only child got pregnant. So, she did not report in her classes for days, same with her (the mother-teacher). The rumor did not stop from that talk about her daughter’s pregnancy. It aggravated when on the month before her daugher’s delivery, she had to apply for a loan from the Teachers’ Association Cooperative. Then it was confirmed throughout the campus, that, that missing student got pregnant for nine long years.

     You know, truth would always find its way to be unearth. On the day the birth of the innocent handsome babe, a nurse visited the delivery room and she was surprised to see her former teacher taking care of her child in pain. She couldn’t help but approach her and asked, “Ma’am, good morning. Sino po siya? Baka meron po akong maitulong.” The teacher answered, “Yes, my dear child. How kind of you. My only child is laboring and she is in severe pain.” She got the help from the doctor and the nurses in the pedia hospital.. This started and aggravated the rumor in the campus of the school because it so happened that the nurse is also the daughter of a colleague in the school.

     This scenario is not an isolated case. Because now and then, we often hear true stories like this… unwed mothers.. abandoned child .. single mother… unwanted child. Etc. But, what usually happens in the hospital is, while they demand the presence and the name of the father, the hospital can not generate the complete name and true name because the mother of the babe is an unwed mother. This is the beginning of the suffering of the small family (one parent family).

Whether the use of the family name of the unwed mother, as the family name of the baby, is legal or not, is something which, I think the government should also consider. I only hope that there is a policy set by government or the law pertaining to the legal use of the single parent’s family use (as the legitimate family name of the unwed mother’s child).

     Using a questionnable name has a great adverse effect on the child’s schooling, child’s travels abroad, child’s professional exams, in applying for visa or migration, and others.

     There is therefore a need to amend RA 8972 – Solo Parents Act. Added to the above recommendations , there are also recommendations for: the reduction of taxs for them, provision of PhilHealth cards for them, free legal assistance, increase in the age of solo parent’s dependent from 18 to 21 years old.

     On the part of the Department of Social Welware and Development (DSWD), it proposes the following: 1) decrease the waiting period from one year to six monts before a solo parent can be allowed to avail of the benefits and clarify the category of any other person who solely provides parental care and suppot to a child or chilren, specifying if he/she is a legal guardian, adoptive parent or licensed foster parent.

     It is also recommending the inclusion of the issuance of IDs to solo parents, creation of Special Review Monitoring and Evaluation Committee and imposition of penalties for non-compliance to the amended law and budget appropriation for it implementation. (FVS)

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