Creating A Solo Parent Unit Providing Welfare Services, Special Privileges And Benefits To Solo Parents And Their Children, Appropriating Funds And For Other Purposes
Localization of national policies is one of the core challenges of every legislator. This has been triumphed by Coun. Mary Marjorie Martin-Chan of Tuguegarao, a 3rd class city in the province of Cagayan, by institutionalizing the Solo Parent Ordinance of the City.
Despite not being a solo parent herself, Martin-Chan saw firsthand the struggles of her relatives and a helper at home and decided to lobby for their rights. It is only when she consulted the City Social Welfare and Development Office that she realized the gravity of the situation: that while the city issued IDs to the registered solo parents, there were relatively few programs for them. Besides, the initial 200 registered solo parents were significantly fewer compared to the 1,200 registrants when they conducted a new census.
One of the vital things Martin-Chan considered when crafting the ordinance is her lack of understanding of what a solo parent really needs. While this posed a limitation, Martin-Chan proved her vigor to help her constituents by doing thorough research on RA 8972 or the Solo Parents' Welfare Act of 2000. Alongside this, Martin-Chan intricately weighed what her city can add, adapt,, and localize from this national policy. Ultimately, she held consultation meetings with several stakeholders, some of whom include solo parents themselves, the CSWD as they will be the implementing arm of the LGU, and the Barangay Chairpersons to create awareness.
Martin-Chan also expressed one of the constraints of every legislation: that while it may be passed, its full implementation and funding relies greatly on the executive arm. As such, her ordinance, five years after its passage, still hasn't received any funding. Still, an efficient legislator transforms these constraints into opportunities. Martin-Chan, with the help of the implementing bodies, gathered all the solo parents from the 49 barangays of Tuguegarao, regardless if they're registered in the system or not, and held seminars on their rights and privileges. If qualified, right on the spot they can be registered and enjoy the benefits.
Furthermore, Martin-Chan was still able to have the support of the City Government of Tuguegarao by having the city's programs on scholarship and livelihood prioritize a certain number of solo parents. Martin-Chan also had seminars on the rights and privileges of solo parents, amplifying government services they are entitled to. Likewise, she proudly shared how the creation of the Solo Parents Federation, which aims to amplify the voices of the solo parents as well as to cater their concerns and needs, is now an institutionalized body and a part of the policymaking process of the City. As such, it empowered more solo parents to take a stand on their rights, and helped develop leaders in them. That until today, the federation continuously creates programs for its members, several of which were intended for donation drives to other solo parents who tested positive for COVID or their family members. Also, one of the unintended fruits of this ordinance, as shared by Martin-Chan, is that more cities and municipalities in the province are replicating the ordinance in their towns.
Towards the end, Martin-Chan is proof of how an efficient legislator is willing to make ends meet, despite the constraints of her position.