MANILA, Philippines — If passed into law, the Expanded Solo Parents’ Welfare Act or Senate Bill No. 164 will grant solo parents seven additional days of parental leave annually, on top of leave privileges under existing laws.
“Raising a child is daunting, but raising a child alone constitutes a specific set of challenges and difficulties,” said Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros, principal author of the measure and the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality, on Monday said.
A solo mom herself, Hontiveros said that her bill recognizes the difficulties and challenges of being a solo parent. “Sheroes’ ang mga kapwa ko solo moms,” Hontiveros added, combining the words ‘she’ and ‘hero.’
“Ganun din ang mga tatay na mag-isa lang. Solo parents play multiple difficult roles,” she further said.
Aside from the paid parental leave of 7 days annually, Hontiveros’ bill will also entitle solo parents to 20% discount on goods and services in private establishments, costs of childcare, and on tuition fees per child. It also mandates government and private companies with more than 100 employees to create daycare facilities.
“Para sa mga solo parents, maaaring mag-isa ka lang na kumakayod. My proposal is to ensure that our solo parents are given enough support to take care of our children well,” Hontiveros explained.
The Expanded Solo Parents’ Welfare Bill also seeks to expand the definition of solo parents to include spouses of low-income overseas Filipino workers who are away from the Philippines for an unbroken period of 12 months.
“Parang mga solo parents na rin ang ilan sa mga asawa ng OFWs natin,” said Hontiveros. “Minsan, more than a year na nasa abroad ang asawa. Kailangang suportahan ang mga asawa ng ating mga OFWs. We need to extend the solo parents’ benefits to them too,” she urged.
The bill also pushes for the creation of a Solo Parents Affairs Office by the local government, and requires every barangay to have a Solo Parents’ Help Desk that can immediately assist solo parents and their children.
“Gusto kong malaman ng mga single tatay at single nanay na katulad ko na may nakikinig sa kanilang mga hinaing. We want to support our solo parents the best way we can. Ang isinusulong nating mga benepisyo ay mga konkretong solusyon,” Hontiveros said.
Today’s committee hearing in the Senate also discussed the passage of the Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Bill (Senate Bill No. 161) which aims to establish a national policy that prevents teenage pregnancies, the Girls Not Brides Bill (Senate Bill No. 162) that aims to eradicate child marriages in the Philippines, and the Domestic Adoption Act which seeks to fast-track the adoption process in the country. (STACY ANG/IAMIGO/Currentph.com)