Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte has filed a measure that seeks to send to jail “deadbeat” parents found to have deliberately and repeatedly neglected their obligation of providing child support.
Under House Bill (HB) 4807, Duterte proposed that parents with recurrent offenses of failing to send financial support to their child or children be punished with imprisonment of two to four years, depending on the discretion of the courts. They should also be made to pay a fine ranging from P100,000 to P300,000.
First-time offenders may be granted probation under the measure.
Noting that most negligent parents withholding child support are men, Duterte said these “deadbeat” fathers should be made to own up to their responsibilities by imposing stringent penalties on them.
He also pointed out that under Republic Act (RA) 9262 or the “Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act,” withholding child support is classified as “economic abuse” and considered a crime.
The amount of child support under HB 4807 shall not be lower than P6,000 a month, which is equivalent to P200 a day. The combined monthly net incomes of both parents shall be used in determining the amount of child support, which shall be divided proportionately between the two based on their respective net incomes.
Along with Reps. Eric Yap of Benguet and Edvic Yap and Jeffrey Soriano of ACT-CIS, Duterte also sought the establishment of a National Child Support Program (NCSP) under the bill to assist in enforcing child support claims, which include locating absent parents and expediting the collection of the financial aid from them.
The NCSP adheres to the implementation of the Expanded Solo Parents Act (RA 11861) and will help in reducing the clogged court dockets of cases related to child support claims, the bill’s authors said.
To be administered by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the NCSP is also tasked with setting up a Child Support Register, which is a database of child support claims and cases.
The DSWD is mandated to seek assistance from other agencies to protect the NCSP from fraud and abuse, “including standards and procedures concerning nepotism, conflicts of interest among individuals responsible for the administration and supervision of the program, kickbacks, and the use of political patronage.”
Citing a recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO), Duterte said about 15 million Filipinos, mostly women, are solo parents.
“Solo parents already have the responsibility of taking care of their kids on their own. They should not be burdened with the problem of compelling their irresponsible and negligent ex-partners to pay child support,” Duterte said.
“This proposed law aims to ensure that their kids have sufficient support for their subsistence and other essential needs,” Duterte added.
On top of penalties, the bill states that irresponsible parents who fail to pay child support will be compelled to do so by, among others, imposing liens on their real and personal property for amounts equivalent to overdue child support claims, withholding their tax refunds, reporting their negligence to consumer credit bureaus, and seizing or attaching their compensation, settlements and other assets held by financial institutions and retirement funds.
Parents with past-due child support payments will also be barred from obtaining passports. Their driver’s licenses, professional and occupational licenses, and recreational and sporting licenses will be withheld suspended, or restricted as stated under the bill.
Unemployed parents required to pay child support will be made to participate in appropriate work activities or avail of relevant government programs to be able to fulfill their obligation.