Council revisits aid for solo parents
There are around 5 thousand “solo parents” in Cebu City living below the poverty level, according to city hall estimates; and if a 2014 local ordinance is to be implemented, they should be getting their yearly financial aid by now.
But the process of qualification is proving to be a hindrance to the implementation of Cebu City Ordinance 2395 as it requires the applicant to be a registered voter of Cebu City who has voted in three consecutive local and national elections. This means that the earliest time that this could be implemented would be in six years after three consecutive elections in 2016, 2019 and 2022.
“There is a need to amend . . . City Ordinance No. 2395 for the immediate implementation of the said ordinance that will certainly aid the solo parents in their struggles of being the sole provider for their children,” said Councilors Margarita “Margot” Osmeña and Eugenio Gabuya Jr. last week in filing for proposed amendments to the ordinance authored by Councilor Gerardo Carillo in 2014.
Back then, Carillo lobbied for a P40 million budget to implement the ordinance; but the proposal was scrapped by the previous council’s committee on budget and finance headed by Councilor Osmeña.
In an apparent change of heart last week, Osmeña moved to amend the provision on voting to instead read as: “a resident and registered voter of Cebu City who has voted since the 2013 national, local and barangay elections” as well as in succeeding elections, so that funds could be released immediately to qualified solo parents.
The proposed amendment has been referred to the committee on laws for review.
City Ordinance No. 2395, states that a P5,000 annual financial assistance should be given in full on or before March 21 of each year to qualified solo parents.
The Carillo-authored ordinance defines “solo parents” as any of the following: A woman who gives birth as a result of rape or 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 death of spouse, the spouse’s detention or service of a criminal conviction for at least one year; or the spouse’s physical and/or mental incapability as certified by a public medical practitioner.
The ordinance also defines solo parenting as a parent left alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to separation from spouse for at least one year (provided that he/she is entrusted with the custody of the children), or due to abandonment of spouse for at least one year.
An unmarried person who has preferred to keep and rear his/her children instead of having others care for them or give them up to a welfare institution is also considered a “solo parent” under the ordinance; along with any other person who solely provides parental care and support to a child/children as a foster parent duly licensed by the DSWD or duly appointed as legal guardian by the court.
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 for at least one year can also qualify for assistance under the ordinance if the person’s annual income falls equal or below the poverty threshold of P60 thousand a year as assessed by the Department of Social Welfare Services (DSWS).
“A change in the status or circumstances of the parent claiming benefits under the act such that he/she is no longer left alone with the responsibility to parenthood shall terminate his/her eligibility for the benefits,” read the ordinance.
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