Bill expanding benefits for solo parents gets final Senate nod

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 13) — A bill seeking to expand the definition of and benefits provided to solo parents hurdled the Senate on final reading on Monday.

Under the proposed amendments to the Solo Parents' Welfare Act of 2000, solo parents would include the spouse of or the guardian of the child of an overseas Filipino worker who belongs to the low or semi-skilled worker category, and who has been away from the country for at least 12 consecutive months.

Senate Bill 1411 also seeks to include in the definition single foster or adoptive parents duly recognized by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, as well as legal guardians appointed by the court.

Grandparents aged at least 60, and who have the sole responsibility over their minor or physically or mentally incapacitated children or grandchildren, shall also be entitled to the benefits under the measure. These are in addition to benefits granted to them under the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2003.

Indigent solo parents would also be given a monthly cash subsidy of ₱1,000 each.

Other solo parents, regardless of financial status, shall enjoy social protection services, including livelihood opportunities, legal assistance, and counseling.

Further revisions to the current law include solo parents' automatic coverage under the national health insurance program. Premium contributions to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation would be paid by the national government, and partly by the employer.

Those re-entering the workforce, particularly mothers, would meanwhile be prioritized in apprenticeship and scholarship programs of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

The bill would also mandate the issuance of a solo parent identification card and the establishment of a Solo Parent Affairs Office in every local government unit, including a help desk in every barangay.

The House of Representatives version of the measure hurdled final reading in January this year.