Additional privileges under Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act

Our parents are our heroes. However, not all of them are created equal. Some parents take on the bigger and heavier responsibility of being both the “ilaw at haligi ng tahanan” as they play the role of solo parents.

Recognizing the challenges that befall solo parents, the State, as our parents patriae, has allowed the enactment of Republic Act No. 11861 or the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act after it lapsed into law.

The new law affords additional benefits to millions of Filipinos who are deemed solo parents on top of the privileges already extended to them under RA 8972 which was enacted more than two decades ago.

RA 8972 expanded the definition of “solo parents” to include persons who carry the similar burden of having to support and take care of their child or wards. For this purpose, “solo parents” now include spouses or any family member of overseas Filipino workers who are in the low/semi-skilled category and are away from the Philippines for an unbroken period of 12 months.

Relatives within the fourth civil degree of affinity or consanguinity or the legal guardian who assumes parental care or support of a child after his or her parent’s death, abandonment, disappearance, or absence for six months are also considered as solo parents. The law also provides that for solo grandparents, the benefits extended to them shall be on top of those granted to them by the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2003.

Another welcome is the amendment of the period of abandonment for the abandoned spouse to be considered a solo parent. From one year, the period has been reduced to six months.

The provision mandating government agencies to develop a comprehensive package of social protection services for solo parents and their families was also amended to include, in the package, targeted interventions for individuals in need of protection which include temporary shelter, counseling, legal advice, and assistance, medical care, self-concept or ego-building, crisis management, and spiritual nourishment.

Prior to the enactment of the expanded law, solo parents may avail themselves of seven days of paid leave only after rendering service for one year. Now, even after six months as an employee, a solo parent may already avail of the parental leave.

Educational benefits are also extended to solo parents by mandating the DepEd, CHEd, and TESDA to provide scholarship programs for solo parents and a full school scholarship for one child of a solo parent, upon meeting the qualifications set forth by the government agencies involved.

The Expanded Solo Parents Act also entitles a solo parent to a monthly cash subsidy of P1,000 for minimum-wage earners or those with less income. They can also avail of a 10-percent discount and exemption from VAT on certain products such as infant milk, food, and other medical supplements, under certain conditions. The law also grants automatic PhilHealth coverage such that the government shall cover the premium contributions of the qualified solo parents.

As a fitting tribute to solo parents who are not just heroes, but also superheroes in their own regard, the law also declares the third week and third Saturday of April of every year as Solo Parents Week and National Solo Parents Day, respectively.

On a personal note, I believe that to protect and uplift the lives of solo parents, through welfare legislation, is not just a reward for their valuable contribution to society. It is also a tool of empowerment for their children and wards who got disadvantaged by life events that were mostly beyond their control. As such, solo parents deserve our gratefulness every day and even outside of the days designated by law for us to celebrate their sacrifice.


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