(Statement of the Commission on Human Rights welcoming the DSWD-PAO agreement to pursue legal remedies against fathers who neglect child support)
CHIL-REARING is a full-time job, all the more for single mothers who need to earn a living to support their families. This already demanding responsibility, coupled with the challenges of inflation and job security, entails support to ensure that children grow in a nurturing environment conducive to the development of their full potential.
As such, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) welcomes the collaboration of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) to help children and their mothers receive support from estranged fathers. Through a signed memorandum of agreement, the two agencies will file cases—on behalf of wives, partners, and even girlfriends—against fathers who abandon their children and fail to give child support.
According to DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo, neglectful fathers may be prosecuted in violation of the following laws Article 194 and Article195 of the Family Code of the Philippines and Republic Act No. 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004.
Article 194 states that “support comprises everything indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical attendance, education and transportation, in keeping with the financial capacity of the family.” While Article 195 states that parents are required by law to support their children whether legitimate or illegitimate. Section 5(2) Republic Act No. 9262 also declares that “depriving or threatening to deprive the woman or her children of financial support legally due her or her family, or deliberately providing the woman’s children insufficient financial support” is an act of violence against women and their children.
Mothers may reach out to DSWD, in any of their offices, if there are fathers who refuse to provide child support even if they have the means to do so. DSWD shall then issue a letter for the father’s compliance. Otherwise, DSWD will submit the case to Court, with the help of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), and PAO will represent the aggrieved mothers. Those who are proven to be in violation of the aforementioned laws may face up to a year to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of Php100,000 to Php300,000.
CHR lauds DSWD and PAO for this initiative. The Commission believes that this is a milestone in guaranteeing children’s rights, especially those with an absent parent. While economic domestic violence or financial abuse is a common type of domestic violence, it is not often discussed. Thus, the signed agreement is not only an acknowledgment that these incidents exist, but also provides legal remedy and access to justice for vulnerable mothers and their children.
As Gender Ombud, CHR also looks forward to crafting a child-support system that is inclusive of all persons of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression. We hope that factors like income and custody agreements are also considered, especially for non-traditional families. Every child, regardless of family structure, has the right to a full and decent life guaranteed with dignity and opportunity.