Earlier this month, Senator Tito Sotto cracked a bad joke about Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy Taguiwalo's status as a solo parent during her confirmation hearing before the Commission on Appointments. Sotto quipped, "In the street language, when you have children and you are single, ang tawag don ay 'naano lang.'"
The remark was classic Sotto—the perfect mix of idiocy, misogyny, and just the right dash of hypocrisy. The street he walks on leads to hell and it's paved with bad jokes.
Sotto's demeaning statement is nothing new. For decades now, this man has been getting away with these nasty asides on the well-loved show, Eat Bulaga.
While Sotto's comment against Taguiwalo drew laughs from people who think he's genius, those whose brains were still working properly were outraged.
In fact, an ethics complaint has been filed against Sotto.
"The eight complainants are Jean Enriquez of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific and the World March of Women (WMW)-Pilipinas, Clarissa Militante of the WMW, Amparo Miciano Sykioco of the Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan, Judith Pamela Afan Pasimio of Lilak or the Purple Action for Indigenous Womens’ Rights, Judy Ann Chan Miranda of the Partido ng Manggagawa, Ana Maria Nemenzo of the Woman Health Philippines, Josua Mata of the Sentro ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas, and Myrna Hernandez Jimenez of Kasarian-Kalayaan, Inc. or Sarilaya," reports Maila Ager on Inquirer.net.
Meanwhile, ABS-CBN News reports that the Federation of Solo Parents thinks that Sotto can make amends for insulting parents by becoming their advocate.
While the ethics complaint may not have any effect on Sotto, the prospect of championing single parents should at least make him stop and do something that he rarely does—think.
So, in a bid to help Sotto become a better man, here are the things he needs to know about the Solo Parent's Welfare Act.
1| The Solo Parents' Welfare Act or Republic Act No. 8972—which stipulates the benefits and privileges for solo parents and their children—was signed into law on November 7, 2000 and took effect on November 28, 2000. Its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) was approved in April 2002.
2| The law defines the solo parent as any individual who falls under any of the following categories:
A woman who gives birth as a result of rape and other 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 death of spouse.
A parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood while the spouse is detained or is serving sentence for a criminal conviction for at least one year.
A parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to physical and/or mental incapacity of spouse as certified by a public medical practitioner.
A parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to legal separation or de facto separation from spouse for at least one year, as long as he or she is entrusted with the custody of the children.
A parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage as decreed by a court or by a church as long as he or she is entrusted with the custody of the children.
A parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to abandonment of spouse for at least one (1) year.
An unmarried mother/father who has preferred to keep and rear his or her child/children instead of having others care for them or give them up to a welfare institution.
Any other person who solely provides parental care and support to a child or children.
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.
3| The comprehensive package of programs and services for solo parents includes livelihood, self-employment and skills development, employment-related benefits, psychosocial, educational, health, and housing services. However, take note, these benefits is for solo parents whose income in the place of domicile falls below the poverty threshold as set by the National Economic and Development Authority and is subject to the assessment of the DSWD.
4| Among the benefits available to all solo parents—regardless of income—is the Parental Leave. On top of other mandatory leave benefits, solo parents are given an additional 7 days of leave. This is provided that the solo parent has rendered service of at least one year at his or her workplace.
5| But, wait, before the solo parent can avail of benefits and the added days of leave, he or she must prove that he or she is, indeed, a single parent. He or she can do that by securing a Solo Parent Identification Card or Solo Parent ID from the City or Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office.
6| The requirements for securing a Solo Parent ID are the following:
Barangay certificate residency in the area
Documents/evidence that the applicant is a solo parent (e.g. death certificate of spouse, declaration of nullity of marriage, medical certificate if incapacitated)
Income Tax Return or ITR or certification from the barangay/municipal treasurer
7| Even after the submission of the necessary documents, a social worker from the DSWD still has to conduct an assessment or evaluation of the solo parent situation. The Solo Parent ID will be issued after 30 days from filing.
Solo parents have their work cut out for them. They don't need a clueless senator insulting them. We still have hope for Sotto to become the “Pinoy Henyo” that we deserve. Because he's certainly not the senator we need right now.