MANILA, Philippines --- The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill that will give added relief to 13.9 million single parents who carry the heavy burden of raising their families alone.
Despite the approval, You Against Corruption and Poverty (YACAP) partylist Rep. Carol Jayne Lopez, one of the principal authors of House Bill 6184, urged President Aquino to certify the bill as urgent administration measure.
Lopez, who has been championing the cause of single parents, said HB 6184 will amend the Solo Parent Welfare Act of 2000 by extending wide ranging benefits for solo parents, including the grant of discounts on certain commodities. The measure also expands the qualification of solo parent to persons left to take the responsibility of parenthood due to the disability or incapacity of the other spouse.
Aside from Lopez, other authors 2012of the bill include Reps. Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Bagong Henerasyon); Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (Lakas-CMD, Pampanga); Emmi De Jesus (Gabriela) and Emi G. Calixto-Rubiano (LP, Pasay City).
''We must remember that our People Power icon and former President Corazon Aquino herself became virtual solo parent following the assassination of former Senator Benigno Aquino in 1983. We can therefore say her son President Aquino clearly understands the enormous challenges facing solo parents who are raising their families by themselves,'' said Lopez.
The expanded benefits provided for single parents include housing, comprehensive package of social benefits, flexible work schedule, parental leave, educational benefits or scholarships, among others.
As proposed by Lopez, additional benefits to be enjoyed by single parents include 10 percent discount on children's clothing materials for all purchases made within two years from the birth of the child; 15 percent discount on baby's milk and food supplements in the first two years of a child; and 15 percent discount on all purchases of medicine and other medical supplements or supplies.
''We therefore humbly ask President Aquino to certify the passage of the Amended Solo Parents Welfare Act as urgent in order to give millions of solo parents and their families the chance to enjoy the economic prosperity that the whole country is now beginning to experience under the Aquino Administration,'' said Lopez, a solo parent herself.
In the Senate, Senator Edgardo Angara and Senator Francis Escudero, another single parent, have filed counterpart bills amending the Solo Parents Welfare Act of 2000.
Under Lopez' bill, single parents who avail of benefits under the proposed law shall submit or present the solo parent identification card and the birth certificate of the child or other evidence of entitlement to government agencies or commercial establishments.
The measure provides that corporation or business establishments that give a discount to the single parent shall be entitled to claim the discount given as business expenses subject to proper recording and recommendation.
The bill provides penalties of up to P200,000 in fine and imprisonment of not less than one year for those violating the bill.
There is no clear figure on the number of solo parents in the country, but a press statement from the Department of Social Services and Development (DSWD) had Secretary Dinky Soliman citing a Department of Health (DOH) and the University of the Philippines - National Institute for Health (UP-NIH) study showing that solo parents constitute about 14 to 15 percent of the estimated 94 million Filipinos.