Makabayan bloc lawmakers seek additional benefits for solo parents

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 27 2020 01:17 AM

MANILA - The House of Representatives is set to tackle in plenary a consolidated bill that seeks to expand benefits for solo parents, a lawmaker said Wednesday.

This, after 21 proposed measures amending the Solo Parents' Welfare Act of 2000 passed scrutiny by the House committees on ways and means and appropriations.

Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas told ABS-CBN News the so-called Makabayan bloc, composed of progressive minority lawmakers, would push for the inclusion of disapproved provisions during the plenary proceedings.

The Makabayan bloc sponsored House Bill 478, which pushes for a 20-percent discount on selected goods and services for solo parents and their children. The committee-approved version caps the discounts at 10 percent. 

“As much as we can, ilalaban natin talaga kasi 'yun ang gusto ng mga mga solo parents natin. Isa-isahin namin para pagka mag-plenary… baka makapagdagdag pa tayo doon sa amendments on the floor,” said Brosas, one of the bill's authors.

The approved consolidated bill proposes a 10-percent discount and value-added tax (VAT) exemption for clothing; prescribed medicines, vaccines and other medical supplements; medical and dental services; diagnostic and laboratory fees; and private doctors’ fees for solo parents’ child or children aged 6 years and below.

The same discount and VAT exemption applies to infant formula, food and micronutrient supplements, and sanitary diapers for solo parents’ child or children 3 years old and below; and basic school supplies for children aged 21 years and younger.

The measure also mandates various government agencies and other related institutions to “prioritize the solo parents and their children in the provisions of livelihood, training and poverty alleviation programs.” 

Another salient provision involves proposed penalties at P10,000 to P50,000 or imprisonment for 6 months to a year for “any person, corporation, entity or agency that refuses or fails to provide the benefits granted to the solo parent." Succeeding violations will result in a fine of P100,000 to P200,000 or imprisonment of 1 to 2 years. 


Brosas said her party-list would send solo parent groups copies of the committee-approved version for their inputs and comments.

“Nag a-agree naman kami [Makabayan bloc] doon [approved consolidated bill] pero this is far from the request ng mga solo parents, mga stakeholder na kasama natin," she said.

Single parents like Gina Corpuz, whose husband died in October 2019, and is now solely rearing her 6-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son, are pinning their hopes on the swift passage of the measure. 

Corpuz, a street sweeper, is applying to be formally recognized by Quezon City as a solo parent, so she can qualify for the benefits.

“Ang hirap po kung saan-saan po ako, nangungutang po ako kung saan-saan. Lalo na po ngayon ‘di ko na po alam saan kami kukuha ngayon [provision], lockdown po lahat… Makakagaan po sa akin, napakalaking tulong po 'yung ibibigay nilang dagdag sa single parent," she said.

Aside from existing benefits under the Solo Parents' Welfare Act of 2000, Quezon City is formalizing the implementing rules and regulations for an ordinance that grants 20-percent discount for solo parents in the city’s restaurants and food establishments.

The local social welfare office also bared a one-time P5,000 cash assistance for some 200 solo parents. 

Brosas said local governments could pass ordinances to expand and fund solo parents’ benefits in their respective jurisdictions.