ILIGAN CITY (PIA)–“On my part, padayon naman ang pagfollow up sa mga [I continue to follow up with the] relevant departments tungkol sa [about the] full and proper implementation ng balaod [of the law].”

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, the principal author of the law, together with the Senate of the Philippines Gender and Development Committee spearheaded the forum tackling Republic Act (RA) 11861, otherwise known as the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act, to address the concerns and queries of solo parents regarding the implementation of the law which was complemented last year with the release of its rules and regulations.

Hontiveros expressed confidence in the city government’s commitment and willingness to utilize their mandate and follow up with national line agencies to fast-track the implementation of the law.

The city government here, particularly the City Social Welfare and Development Office, the Gender and Development (GAD) Office, the Office of the Committee Chairperson on Women, and GAD Councilor Rosevi Queenie Belmonte, have been working to ensure the law’s efficient execution.

Belmonte emphasized the importance of the GAD budget, which she believed was essential for providing vital support to solo parents. She will propose an ordinance and lobby with the mayor to allocate a dedicated budget for GAD to provide assistance to some 8,000 solo parents in the city.

Meanwhile, Penchy Mae Reyes, a resident of Barangay Buruun, expressed gratitude for the forum that enlightened her about the benefits and rights of solo parents under the expanded law. She lost her husband, a private driver, in a 2020 accident and now relies on his pension to support herself and her three children.

“Nakatabang siya ug nakadungag og kahibalo nga daghan diay benepisyo sa usa ka single mom nga karong tuiga makamit namo [The forum helped me to know that there are indeed many benefits that a single mom like us can have],” she said.

RA 11861, which amends RA 8972, also known as the Solo Parents Welfare Act of 2000, provides extra benefits to solo parents. It offers various benefits to solo parents, including a monthly cash subsidy of P1,000 for those earning minimum wage or less.

Additionally, single parents earning less than P250,000 annually receive a 10% discount and exemption from value-added tax on essential items such as baby’s milk, food, micronutrient supplements, sanitary diapers, prescribed medicines, vaccines, and other medical supplements for their children from birth up to six years of age.

Furthermore, this law automatically includes single parents in PhilHealth’s National Health Insurance Program, with the government covering the premium contributions. Moreover, it prioritizes solo parents, particularly mothers, and their children for apprenticeships, scholarships, livelihood training, and various poverty alleviation programs, as well as offering opportunities for low-cost housing. (LELA/PIA-10/Lanao del Norte)