Penalizing the heartless children

By: Atty. Ruphil F. Bañoc October 04,2019 - 08:49 AM

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother-which is the first commandment with a promise – so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on earth.”-Ephesians 6: 1-4 

Senator Panfilo Lacson has revived Senate Billl no. 29 or the Parents Welfare Act of 2019 that requires children to support their senior citizen, sick and incapacitated parents. Failure on the part of the children to deliver such obligations would make them suffer the penal provisions of the law. 

Lacson’s measure seems unnecessary and awkward for at least two reasons:  first, there is already a provision in our existing Family Code about support, and second, Filipinos are well-known for our close family ties, so there seems to be no need to make a legal demand.

However, because there are people who are really stubborn and do not know how to look back at their parents, passing Lacson’s measure seems timely. This is for people who are calloused enough, who can afford to abandon their in-need parents. 

What makes Lacson’s measure different is the penal provisions enumerated in Sections 19 and 20, respectively. Also, Section 21 mandates the local government units such as provinces and highly urbanized cities to establish their own Old Age Home that can accommodate at least 50 parents. 

Section 19 substantially states that if children are non-compliant with the order of support, the court will issue a warrant for levying the amount due. If such failure reaches 3 consecutive months, there is a corresponding imprisonment of one to six months and a fine of P100,000.

Section 20 provides a higher penalty for those who have their intent of abandoning their parents. They will be penalized with 6-10 years imprisonment and a fine not less than P300,000. 

If this proposed bill will be enacted into a law, parents will finally have a weapon against their heartless children. However, the limitations enumerated for by law are so many.

Scrutinizing further the bill, the circumstances that in-need parents can file a case against their children is when they are unable to maintain themselves by their own earnings or property owned by them. Also, the respondent child/children who abandon them must have the capacity to support. They cannot file a case against children who also have less in life.

The irony sometimes in life is that those parents who are rich, their children will even fight against each other just to have their parents in their homes. Some may agree to have an alternate schedule to let their parents stay in their homes. 

But if the parents are poor, sick and incapacitated, the tendency is their children would abandon them. This often happens when the children are also suffering from the agony of poverty. They even pass the buck. 

Considering the Filipino culture, if this measure becomes a law, this should be used as a last resort. I cannot imagine the very sad situation when the parents bring their case in court against their very own children. 

With all due respect, there are many good children who have been supporting their parents without the need of being compelled by the law. Heartless children, I think, are more of the exception than the rule. 

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