Parents who enter their twilight years may be assured of support from their children, after Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson filed a bill seeking to strengthen Filipinos’ well-known sense of filial responsibility.
Senate Bill 257, titled the “Parents Welfare Act of 2016,” provides penalties for those who abandon or fail to provide support for their elderly parents, especially if they can no longer fend for themselves.
“While government is doing its best in providing support in the form of food and shelter as well as enacting legislations like the Senior Citizens Act, it cannot be over-emphasized that taking care of the elderly members of the society is not only the function of government, but rather it is a shared responsibility of government and the children of said elderly. The care for the aged is neither an exclusively private matter to be left to the family nor an exclusively public concern best left to the government,” he stressed.
[Read: Senate Bill 257, Parents Welfare Act of 2016]
But he added that while Filipinos are known for close family ties, there are cases of elderly, sick, and incapacitated parents abandoned by their own children.
Nowadays, he said the sights of abandoned elderly in the streets become typical, with children failing to provide the necessary support to their aging, sick and incapacitated parents.
“This happens despite our moral and natural obligation to maintain our parents who are in need of support,” Lacson said.
Under Lacson’s bill, abandonment of a parent in need of support shall constitute a criminal act. Elderly parents may file a petition for support before a competent court especially if their prior requests are denied or not acted on.
The court shall refer the parties to a conciliation officer for mediation before hearing the petition, to preserve the family unity and peace.
Once it handles a case, the court may order the payment of a lump sum, a monthly allowance or periodical payment, considering the circumstances of the parties. The manner and method of payment of support shall also be under the discretion of the court. The parent in need of support shall be represented by the Public Attorney’s Office
If the parent concerned has several children, the support shall be divided among them in proportion to their resources or financial capacity. Grandchildren shall be liable to support their ascendants if the children of such ascendants cannot fulfill their duty to support due to death, illness or if they are unable to fully take care of themselves due to physical or mental disability or condition.
Payment of support in instances where the parent in need of support is not being maintained by his/her children in their dwelling shall be paid within the first five days of every month.
Respondents who fail in giving support for three consecutive months without justifiable cause face imprisonment of one to six months, or a fine of P100,000.
Those who leave parents with the intention of wholly abandoning them face imprisonment of six to 10 years and a fine of at least P300,000.
Old Age Homes
Meanwhile, the bill seeks to establish Old Age Homes for the elderly, sick or otherwise incapacitated parents in every province and highly urbanized city.
Each home can accommodate at least 50 parents.