By Filane Mikee Cervantes

SOLO PARENTS. Solo parents join a forum in Tacloban City in this April 16, 2024 photo. In a press conference on Thursday (April 25, 2024), Bagong Henerasyon (BH) Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera called for the proper implementation of the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act, particularly the provision on their additional benefits such as social assistance, tax exemptions, and discounts. (PNA photo by Vanessa Joy Yuzon, OJT)

MANILA – A lawmaker on Thursday called for proper implementation of the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act, particularly the provision on their additional benefits such as social assistance, tax exemptions, and discounts.

Bagong Henerasyon (BH) Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera said there have been reports regarding the poor and sometimes non-implementation of the new benefits for single parents provided for under Republic Act 11861, specifically the PHP1,000 monthly cash subsidy to those earning minimum wage or below and the 10 percent value-added tax (VAT) discount and exemption.

“There are still significant gaps that the government can fill to help these remarkable individuals carry the substantial load of being sole breadwinners, guardians, and caregivers,” Herrera said in a press conference.

Herrera also cited a study showing approximately 15 million single parents in the Philippines, of which 95 percent are women.

She noted that many of these single parents face discrimination when they try to avail of the benefits provided in Republic Act 11861.

“Even the simple act of acquiring a Solo Parent ID is confusing and difficult. Some establishments are not even aware that there is a law in place. Our goal is to help lighten the burden of Filipino solo parents, not to give them more bureaucratic difficulties or put them in situations where they need to explain themselves,” she said.

“Life is already so difficult as it is, imagine how challenging it is to care for, nurture, and raise a family. That’s already the major undertaking for two parents, how more so for soloistas?” she added.

Aside from the monetary benefits, Herrera said non-mandatory benefits should be prioritized, such as giving priority to solo parents who wish to obtain a work-from-home agreement from their employer based on the Telecommuting Act, as well as the establishment of childminding centers to provide a safe place for employed parents to leave their child/children while they are at their workplaces.

Herrera filed House Resolution 1681, directing the House Committees on Social Services, Welfare of Children, and Local Government to ensure adequate funding and proper implementation of the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act.

Herrera suggested a more concentrated information drive regarding the novel benefits and protections of the law, which now broadens the definition of a solo parent and includes the spouse of an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) living in the Philippines to take care of their children, and also pregnant women without any partners.

“There is a need for the House of Representatives to constantly keep itself abreast of the position, and developments in the situations of solo parents in the country based on empirical data,” Herrera said in her resolution. (PNA)