August 6 ------ Cases of violence against women and children in the country went up in the past seven months, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) disclosed.
Based on the data from the Philippine National Police IPNP), a total of 6,383 violence against women cases were reported to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Women and Children Protection Center while 9,677 cases of violence against children were tallied in the same period. DILG Sec. Benhur Abalos then urged local government units (LGUs) to beef up programs and policies on VAWC and solo parents. “The protection of women and children and welfare of solo parents are issues that the President and his administration will focus on. We are, therefore, urging our LGUs to respond with fervor and intensify programs and policies addressing these concerns. Protektahan at pangalagaan natin ang kanilang kapakanan,” Abalos said.
With the rise in VAWC incidents during the pandemic, Abalos said that the barangays and LGUs must strengthen protective programs, counseling and support services for women who are victims of abuse and solo parents alike because they run to you LGUs first when they have concerns and problems. The DILG chief insisted that the LGUs must intensify their campaign on VAWC down to the communities and strictly ensure that their mandate on the protection of women and children is executed accordingly. Among the responsibilities of LGUs as prescribed by Republic Act No. 9262 are the filing of protection orders through an LGU social worker; leading in education and information campaigns on violence, particularly towards educating the public on its social impacts; and, ensuring sustained education and training of officers and personnel on the prevention of violence against women and their children under the Act.
Meanwhile, the barangay officials and law enforcers are tasked to respond immediately to a call for help or request for assistance or protection of the victim/s to ensure her/their safety; transport or escort the victim/s to a safe place of their choice or to a clinic or hospital; ensure the enforcement of the Protection Orders issued by the Punong Barangay or the courts; and, arrest the suspected perpetrator without a warrant when any of the acts of violence defined under the law is occurring, or when he/she has personal knowledge that any act of abuse has just been committed, and there is imminent danger to the life or limb of the victim, among others.
On the side of the DILG, Abalos added that the protection of women and children against VAWC remains active through the enhanced 911 hotline which now includes VAWC and other Gender-Based Violence (GBV) emergency response and psychological support, making it more accessible to those who need it. Abalos also prodded the LGUs to effectively implement the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act or Republic Act (RA) No. 11861 to grant additional benefits to solo parents. “Our LGUs have a role to play in implementing this law and we will ensure that they will coordinate with the concerned agencies to fast-track its enforcement and swiftly deliver help to our solo parents nationwide,” Abalos said. The law expands the definition of solo parent to include spouses or any family members of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) or guardians of the OFW’s child, provided that the OFW “belongs to the low/semi-skilled category and is away from the Philippines for an uninterrupted period of 12 months.”
Among the benefits of RA 11861 are the P1,000 monthly cash subsidy for solo parents earning minimum wage and below; a 10 percent discount and exemption from value-added tax on baby’s milk, food and micronutrient supplements, and sanitary diapers, duly prescribed medicines, vaccines and other medical supplements purchased from the birth of the child until six years of age of a single parent earning less than P250,000 annually; automatic coverage under PhilHealth’s National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) with premium contributions shouldered by the government; prioritization of solo parents, mothers in re-entering the workforce and their children in apprenticeships, scholarships, livelihood training and other poverty alleviation programs of the government and low-cost housing.