Three elections rule in solo parents measure

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Thursday, May 8, 2014


FIVE thousand pesos isn’t really much these days, but it is better than nothing. The Cebu City Council thus deserves praise for passing the ordinance granting financial assistance in that amount to qualified solo parents living in the city.

But I agree with Councilors Mary Ann delos Santos and Hanz Abella, who both voted against the ordinance, that the conditions for qualifying for the dole-out are so stringent it may be unreachable by the sector that needs it at the time that it is most needed.

Mary Ann singled out the three elections rule as the harshest. Here, a minor who becomes a solo parent this year will have to wait until 2019 before he or she can qualify for the assistance and that is already assuming that the barangay election in 2016 is not postponed. That’s a six-year wait during which the need is most urgent for money to buy milk, diapers and other necessities.

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Gerry Carillo, who authored the ordinance, explained that the rule was meant to prevent abuse of the privilege by non-Cebu City residents, the same abuse that they witnessed in the grant of cash gifts to senior citizens.

But here’s the rub. The effort to prevent “flying” solo parents is inflicting serious collateral damage to legitimate single parents, whose only sin is that they are not old enough to have voted in three successive elections.

Generosity that, I suppose, is the spirit behind this latest exercise of gift-giving by the city government and which ideally should be all-encompassing and unfettered. But the city’s resources are not limitless, thus the need to be more discriminating in the selection of recipients.

But between giving it to someone who is not qualified and denying it from someone who is otherwise entitled to it, which do you think is the bigger evil?

***

What, you cannot even choose where you want to be buried upon your death?

This seems to be what the Supreme Court is saying in a case that it decided last April 22.

In that case, the Court ruled that only the form of the funeral rites shall be in accordance with the expressed wishes of the deceased. But “the right and duty to make funeral arrangements” reside in the spouse, the ascendants, the descendants and the brothers and sisters in that order of priority. Obviously, ”funeral arrangements” include the choice of burial grounds.

“The wishes of the decedent with respect to his funeral are not absolute,” the Court said, citing author and eminent civil law authority Arturo Tolentino who wrote that “(t)he dispositions or wishes of the deceased in relation to his funeral, must not be contrary to law.”

Thus, when a person chooses where he wants to be buried, his choice, no matter how clearly made, is void for being contrary to the law which says that that choice belongs “to those charged with the right and duty to make the proper arrangements to bury the remains of their loved one.”

Justice Marvic Leonen, who dissented, described the situation as unfortunate. “Part of life,” he said, “is the ability to control how one wishes to be memoralized, and such right should remain with the deceased.”

He added that “(i)t is only when the deceased has not left any express instructions that the right is given to the persons specified under the law.”

While acknowledging the pervasive presence of the law in our lives while we live, Leonen said that the law “also grants us the autonomy or the space to define who we are.” This does not vanish with our death, he said. The law continues to “respect our earned autonomy even after death.”

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

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

Opinion

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