With an estimated 14-million single-parent households in the Philippines, negligent parents refusing to provide child support may face criminal liability, if the proposed “Act Ensuring Child Support and Penalizing Parental Refusal or Neglect Thereof” is passed into law.
Senior Deputy Minority Leader Paul Ruiz Daza of Northern Samar said fines, imprisonment and other harsh provisions were included in his House Bill 44, or “An Act Ensuring Child Support and Penalizing Parental Refusal or Neglect Thereof.”
“In my version of the bill, I had harsh provisions in there, like imprisonment,” said Daza during the initial deliberation by the House Committee on Welfare of Children on the proposed bills. These sanctions, he added, were put in place to strengthen mandates on child welfare and protection.
“Make the law to really have teeth, to scare the non-custodial parent into providing,” said Daza.
“There are already existing child support provisions in the Family Code,” Daza acknowledged, lamenting on the persistence of parent negligence as a “perennial problem” among Filipino households.
Daza cited a World Health Organization study that there may be up to 14 million single-parent households in the Philippines.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), through Assistant Bureau Director Miramel Garcia-Laxa, concurred with Daza’s sentiments, revealing during deliberations that around 280 child custody cases were brought to their attention in 2022 alone. Laxa also shared the department’s support for the bill, calling it “a priority legislative agenda.”
The Philippine National Police (PNP), meanwhile, recorded 3,684 cases of economic violence against women from 2018 to 2023, according to Brig. Gen. Matthew Bacay, which includes child support negligence under Under Republic Act (RA) No. 9262.
The passing of HB 44, Daza shared, “essentially addresses the gaps to make it easier for custodial parents to be able to enforce child support.”
“I think that it is time for the House, for our country, to have a national debate on how we can improve existing laws and regulations that address the welfare of children, in particular, problems that single-parent households face,” he said.
Daza’s bill proposes a child support amount of P6,000 monthly, while the final amount is still undetermined by the DSWD and courts. Should non-custodial parents fail after two months or upon incurring P30,000 in outstanding amounts, it will lead them to be liable for imprisonment of up to four years and a fine of up to P300,000.
Other penalties for negligent parents will also be integrated with the issuance of government documents, including a hold departure order on immigration.
Daza, in a statement, continued to express his hope on passing the bill, encouraging his “fellow representatives to throw support behind the legislation.”
“While keeping our children protected and nourished is the objective, the happiest outcome we could arrive at is keeping more families together,” Daza added.