Solo parents to get P5T aid

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Thursday, May 8, 2014


THE Cebu City Council approved yesterday an ordinance granting P5,000 yearly to solo parents, despite objections from two members who worry that it won’t give help where it’s really needed.

The City will appropriate P10 million for the assistance.

However, not all registered solo parents in Cebu City are eligible for the financial assistance, said Councilor Gerardo Carillo, one of the proponents. At present, some 800 solo parents are registered in Cebu City.

The annual assistance will be limited, however, to registered voters who have voted for three consecutive elections; they must be a resident of the city, as certified by a barangay captain; and they must not earn more than P60,000 a year.

During the session yesterday, the council passed the ordinance with nine votes in favor, two against and three abstentions.

Councilors Hanz Abella and Mary Ann de Los Santos voted against the ordinance, which spelled out the mechanics and criteria for how solo parents can avail themselves of help from the City.

They questioned the criteria for qualified beneficiaries.

De los Santos questioned a provision that states a solo parent can only claim the assistance after voting in three elections, which means those who have never voted would have to wait nine years.

De los Santos added that solo parents who are 18 to early 20s are the ideal beneficiaries of the aid.

Instead of giving cash, she added, the City should give solo parents training or livelihood grants.

“We teach them how to fish. We do not give them fish as a long-term solution,” de los Santos told her colleagues.

The ordinance may also be misinterpreted as the City’s encouraging individuals to become solo parents or for mothers and fathers to pretend to be separated just to avail themselves of the benefit, she said.

Councilor Hanz Abella, who also voted against it, said he found the ordinance’s requirements too stringent.

Councilors Eugenio Gabuya Jr., Noel Wenceslao and James Cuenco abstained.

Wenceslao said his abstention does not mean he is against the ordinance; he is not just convinced that the City can provide the financial assistance if the number of registered solo parents will increase.

“We might have a problem in giving the assistance in the future,” Wenceslao said.

The Office of the Mayor, through the City Administrator and the City Treasurer’s Office, along with the City’s Department of Social Welfare and Services and the barangays, will be in charge of releasing the cash aid.

Kimberly Ann Pila, 32, said the council’s decision will be a big help in raising her 7-year-old child. Pila is a solo parent from Barangay Mambaling who attended the council session yesterday to hear for herself the outcome of the move.

“Nalipay gyod ko kay dako na ug tabang labi na sa pagpa-iskwela sa akong anak (I’m happy. It will help keep my child in school),” she told reporters.

Pila earns a living by selling pre-cut fabrics to someone who makes rags; her mother, a vendor, also helps her.

Rianne Tecson, 36, said the P5,000 cash aid is much better than having nothing at all.

It would be particularly helpful to parents who get no support from their former partners.

Though she can’t avail herself of the assistance because of the income ceiling, Tecson said she is still glad that the government granted extra leave credits for solo parents. (Disclosure: Tecson is Sun.Star Cebu’s social media editor.)

Under the ordinance, individuals who may qualify as solo parents include those who are those left alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to the death, detention or mental or physical incapacity of a spouse. Also qualified are those who are legally separated, “provided that he or she is entrusted with the custody of the children.”

The ordinance will cover an unmarried mother or father who decided “to keep and to rear children instead of having others care for them or give them up to a welfare institution.”

Any person or family member who assumes the responsibility of taking care of a child can also qualify as a solo parent, under the ordinance.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 09, 2014.

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