The local government through the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office, in partnership with the Solo Parents group here, staged the summit this year with the theme, “Solo Parents Facing Challenges For A Better Future.” This is in line with the observance of Solo Parents’ Month celebration this November.
Eleanor Bugalin, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Cordillera Regional focal person for solo parents, presented the salient provisions of Republic Act 2000 or the Solo Parents Welfare Act as she urged them to organize themselves to have a stronger voice to challenge its limitations. She cited one of the limitations of the law - the comprehensive health benefits which need amendments as there are no specifics.
This town’s Solo Parents’ organization president Mica Amlag admitted the law lacks teeth but they are banking on the proposed municipal ordinance due for second reading which spells out specific benefits and privileges and other provisions for said sector just like the senior citizens, and persons with disability.
One of the important features of the proposed ordinance is the installation of a Solo Parents’ desk and a focal person from the organization who will take charge the sector’s issues and concerns.
Among the benefits are livelihood assistance, educational assistance, coordination of local government of individually sponsored Social Security System and PhilHealth sponsorship.
Amlag admitted that being a solo parent is tough. “I know the situation because I’ve been through such,” she said. “We are not fighting for former solo parents to come back but we are fighting for the fair benefits for solo parents just like what other marginalized groups receive,” she further said as their members come and go due to some opportunities. To date their group has around 200 members.
“Actually, even if there are no benefits at least we come together. We come to know that we are more blessed than others,” stressed Amlag adding that the organization serves as a support group and sort of a debriefing venue in sharing experiences.The group is also undertaking tree planting, and attending seminars and meetings including those organized by the LGU.
Representatives from the Department of Science and Technology, National Housing Authority, and Social Security System also discussed during the summit their programs and projects which the sector may avail of. By Susan C. Aro (JDP/SCA-PIA-CAR, Benguet)