Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Benefits for solo parents pushed

MANILA, Philippines - With most solo parents bearing the burden of raising the family alone, a bill has been filed in the Senate calling for additional benefits in the form of discounts for purchases of milk, food, medicines, and clothing, and income tax exemption.

Senate Bill No. 1439 entitled "Solo Parents Welfare Act of 2010", filed by Senator Loren Legarda, seeks the following support and benefits for solo parents:

1. Ten percent (10%) discount from all purchases of clothing and clothing materials for the child from birth up to two years;

2. Fifteen (15%) discount from all purchases of baby's milk, food and food supplements;

3. Fifteen (15%) percent discount from all purchases of medicines and other medical supplements/supplies for the child; and

4. Basic personal exemption from individual income tax.

"Solo parent" refers to a parent who is taking on the responsibility of parenthood alone due to the spouse's death, detention, mental incapacity or legal separation. Also considered solo parents are women who became pregnant due to abuse.

“Double hardship saddles solo parents. They perform parental duties single-handedly in the face of economic turmoil that is characterized by skyrocketing prices, poverty and massive unemployment," said Legarda, also a solo parent herself.

“There is a need to amend Republic Act No. 8972, otherwise known as the Solo Parents' Welfare Act, to address the financial concerns of solo parents amidst the economic difficulties that the country is experiencing.”

Solo Parents' Welfare Act of 2000

Republic Act No. 8972 (Solo Parents' Welfare Act of 2000) was signed by then President Joseph Estrada in 2000.

It gave solo parents the right to take parental leave of not more than 7 working days a year in addition to leave privileges under existing laws. The Act also called for employers to give solo parents flexible working arrangements.

Under that law, solo parents are also granted medical assistance in the form of a comprehensive health care program for them and their children. They are also eligible for housing benefits in the form of allocation in government low-cost housing projects.

Scholarships for qualified solo parents and children were also made available based on the said law.

Legarda said, “The enactment of this proposed measure [Senate Bill No. 1439] will help lessen the financial burden carried by solo parents by affording them additional remuneration to be able to provide a better future for their children."

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