MANILA (UPDATE) - Social Welfare Secretary Erwin Tulfo has a message for negligent fathers: failure to pay child support - even for children born out of wedlock - is a violation of the Family Code.
Tulfo said he has ordered his department's legal offices in the regions to "write a letter to these dads informing them we have a law" against failure to provide which can result in 6 years of prosecution and a fine of not more than P300,000.
If the father is unresponsive, the DSWD will then forward the case and ask the Public Attorney's Office to "help us file charges," he told ANC's Headstart on Wednesday.
"Kung ikaw ay isang ama, may anak ka—kasi ngayon sa Family Code, wala na 'yung anak sa labas, kahit 'di kayo kasal, kung nakapirma ka sa birth certificate ng bata, 'matic na sa batas, sustentuhan mo ang bata hanggang mag-disiotso," he earlier said.
"Di puwedeng 'Girlfriend ko lang 'yan. Nabuntis ko lang 'yan,'" he said.
(If you're a father and you have a child—now in the Family Code the concept of an illegitimate child longer exists. Even if you're not married, if you signed the child's birth certificate, according to law, you should support the child until they turn 18. You cannot say, 'she's just my girlfriend, I just impregnated her.')
Tulfo said more single mothers are going to their office asking for assistance for their children.
Many negligent fathers are employed, he said, but have chosen to abandon their children after their separation from their wives.
"Either bigyan mo ng financial support, paaralin mo. Ang sinasabi ko, may trabaho. Kung wala e 'di paano mo masusustentuhan? Usually nalalaman 'yan sa mga misis, sa mga nanay, pumupunta sa 'min, nagsusumbong," he added.
(Either provide financial support or support their studies. What I'm saying is they have a job, if none how could you provide for their needs? Usually, we learn that from mothers who come to our office.)
Tulfo clarified earlier reports that he would file cases against negligent fathers.
"Linawin ko lang, di ko sinabing kakasuhan ko yung di magbibigay ng child support. Nasa batas po kasi yan, sa Family Code natin."
(Just to clarify, I am not saying that I will file a case against those who fail to provide child support. That's stated in the law, under our Family Code.)
But he said they will send letters to fathers to demand child support.
"Sa mga single mom ho diyan, sa mga may anak na may mga tatay na ayaw sumustento o mga iniwan ng kanilang mga tatay, puwede po kayo lumapit sa 'min. Susulatan namin, magde-demand kami na sustentuhan niya 'yung anak niya, otherwise, ipapasa namin ito sa korte, sa public attorney's office." he also said.
(To single moms and children who have fathers that refuse support or those abandoned by their fathers, you can approach us. We will write them a letter demanding to provide support; otherwise, we will elevate it to the courts, to the public attorney's office.)
Tulfo also said that children below 7 years old must be in the custody of their mothers.
He said in cases in which fathers take their young children away, the mothers can ask for help from the DSWD to reclaim custody of the child.
Tulfo, meantime, said he would leave the proposed divorce bill up to lawmakers. One of the proposed divorced bills was filed by his brother, Senator Raffy Tulfo.
"I came from the seminary, I stayed there for 4 years. If there’s a law, why not. We have to follow that. The decision will be on the hands of our lawmakers," he said.