Bong Go files bill seeking more benefits for solo parents

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go filed a bill that aims to provide additional benefits and privileges to some 14 million solo parents in the country, helping them ease the burden of single-handedly raising their children. 
Senate Bill No. 206, which aims to amend the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000, states that the “benefits and privileges” granted by the existing law “are not sufficient to provide for the needs of the single parents who are both the breadwinner and the caregiver of the family.”
As part of his legislative agenda aimed at helping the Duterte administration achieve positive genuine change felt by all Filipinos, Go personally filed this bill last July 02 together with his other priority Legislative measures. 
“Inuna ko po ang kapakanan ng mga Pilipinong pinaka-nangangailangan ng atensyon mula sa gobyerno. Ang mga ito ay para sa mga may sakit, mga ordinaryong manggagawa, mga biktima ng kalamidad, mga pamilyang nangangailangan ng suporta at mga kabataan na pagasa ng ating bayan. Ito ang serbisyong ipinangako ko sa inyo, serbisyo at pagmamalasakit na dapat ramdam kahit saang dako ng bansa,” he said referring to the first 10 legislative measures he filed. 
Senate bill No. 206 if passed into law grants solo parents additional special discounts in purchases, such as 10 percent from clothes for babies up to 2 years old, 15 percent from baby’s milk and food up to 2 years old, and 15 percent from medicine up to 5 years old.
Children of solo parents will also enjoy 10 percent tuition fee discount from public and private schools from grade one to college and 20 percent discount from school supplies until 21 years old.
Before solo parents could avail themselves of the privileges, however, they must apply for a Solo Parent Identification Card from the Local Social Welfare and Development Office and present the card to the companies and establishments from whom discounted purchases are made.
The companies and establishments are likewise allowed to claim the discounts as part of their business expense.
SB 206 states as well that amnesty or reduction of real estate and inheritance taxes will be given to solo parents, and P50,000 will be added to their exemption from individual income tax.
Employment benefits are also included in the proposal. Under the existing law, solo parent employee who has rendered service of at least one year shall be granted parental leave of not more than seven working days. Go’s bill lowers the required length of service to six months and specifies that the leave should be granted “with pay.”
Wanting the bill to benefit as many deserving people as possible, Go expanded the definition of solo parent in SB 206.
Solo parent is defined under Section 3 as any individual who falls under any of the following categories:
“A woman who gives birth as a result of rape and other crimes against chastity, even without a final conviction of the offender; provided, that the mother keeps and raises the child;
“Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due death of spouse;
“Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood while spouse is detained or is serving sentence for a criminal conviction for at least one (1) year;
“Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to physical and/or mental incapacity of spouse as certified by a public medical practitioner;
“Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to legal separation or de facto separation from spouse for at least six (6) months, provided he/she is entrusted with the custody of the children;
“Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage as decreed by a court or by a church, provided he/she is entrusted with the custody of the children;
“Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to abandonment of spouse for at least six (6) months;
“Unmarried mother/father who has preferred to keep and rear his/her child/children; who has actual custody of the said child/children, instead of having others care for them or giving them up to a welfare institution;
“Any other person who bears sole parental responsibility a child or children, including a foster parent duly-recognized by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, a legal guardian appointed by the court or a legal single adoptive parent; and
“Any family member who assumes the responsibility as the head of the family resulting from the death, abandonment, disappearance or prolonged absence of the parents or solo parent.”
Under the current law, parents who are covered are those who have been left solo due to separation from the spouse or abandonment of the spouse for at least one year. The required time is reduced to six months in SB 206.
The inclusion of duly recognized foster parents is another amendment introduced in SB 206.
“I am pushing for this amendment to the existing law to cater to as many solo parents as possible, to help them build a stronger family despite their situation, and to support them as productive members of society,” Go said.
As penalties, P200,000 or imprisonment of up to two years is proposed to be imposed on “any person, corporation, entity or agency which refuses or fails to provide the benefits granted to solo parents.”
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