MANILA — Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista has signed an ordinance that will provide additional benefits and privileges to solo parents in the city.
Mayor Bautista had earlier called for a review of Republic Act No. 8972, or the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000, to help provide more opportunities for advancement and improvement to all solo parents in the country.
According to Bautista, he supported the call for a review of the law to address the growing concerns of solo parents, including persons with disability (PWDs) who are also living as solo parents.
“It has been more than 10 years since the passage of the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act. I believe it is about time that we propose some amendments to it and QC shall take the lead,” the mayor said.
As provided under the city’s newly-signed ordinance, the additional benefits will cover, among others, the provision of a comprehensive package of social development services, educational and housing benefits and medical assistance, to highlight the city government’s continuing commitment to support and promote the interests of solo parents in QC.
For social development, livelihood development services and seed capitalization through micro-credit program shall be provided by the city government’s Sikap-Buhay Entrepreneurship and Cooperative Office (SBECO) while employment placement facilitation shall be extended by the Public Employment Services Office (PESO).
Under the ordinance, solo parents shall be included by PESO in its priority group for job placement.
Meanwhile, the city’s Social Services Development Department (SSDD), which keeps a registry of solo parents in Quezon City, shall provide regular counseling, crisis management, spiritual enrichment and referral for legal assistance and medical care.
Expanded delivery of social services to QC solo parents also includes the provision of parental leave of not more than seven working days every year to any solo parent-employee who has rendered service of at least one year.
The grant of the additional seven-day parental leave, which shall be non-cumulative, shall be extended by the city in addition to the leave privileges provided under existing laws.
In terms of educational benefits, scholarship programs shall be provided by the city to qualified solo parents and their children in institutions of basic, tertiary and technical/skills education.
As provided under the ordinance, the QC Division of City Schools, TESDA-QC, QC Polytechnic University and the Scholarship and Youth Development Program (SYDP), shall facilitate the provision of educational benefits to solo parents in the city.
Meanwhile, the city’s Housing, Community Development and Human Resettlement Department (HCDHRD) and the Housing and Urban Renewal Authority Inc. (HURA), shall give allocation and provide liberal terms of payment for solo parents for their low-cost and resettlement programs.
Solo parents applying for housing benefits must meet the qualification criteria for housing assistance under Republic Act No. 7279, otherwise known as the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA).
Delivery of essential health packages to solo parents shall be implemented through the QC General Hospital, QC Health Department and barangay health centers.
The newly-approved ordinance was principally authored by Councilors Alexis Herrera, Julienne Alyson Rae Medalla, Racquel Malangen, Lena Marie Juico, Candy Medina and Allan Benedict Reyes.
From June 2003 to June 2014, the city’s SSDD has registered some 10,855 solo parents in QC. Of the total, 10,375 are women.
A solo parent, as defined by R.A. 8972, is:
* 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.
* A parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to the following circumstances:
a) Due to death of spouse.
b) Spouse is detained or is serving sentence for a criminal conviction for at least one year.
c) Physical and/or mental incapacity of spouse as certified by a public medical practitioner.
d) Legal separation or de facto separation from spouse for at least one year, as long as he/she is entrusted with the custody of the children.
e) Declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage as decreed by a court or by a church as long as he/she is entrusted with the custody of the children.
* Unmarried mother/father who has preferred to keep and rear her/his child/children instead of having others care for them or give them up to a welfare institution.
* Any other person who solely provides parental care and support to a child or children.
* Any family member who assumes the responsibility of head of family as a result of the death, abandonment, disappearance or prolonged absence of the parents or solo parent.