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Employed and unemployed unwed fathers need not worry

(Article published in the July 30, 2001 issue of TODAY, Business Section)

On November 7, 2000, Republic Act 8972 was signed into law by Joseph Ejercito Estrada, then President of the Republic, giving unwed fathers legal rights to a bundle of entitlements.

Irrespective of who is, and more so if his income in the place of his domicile falls below the poverty threshold as set by the Neda, several government agencies are duty bound, under pain of being hailed by Ani Desierto to the court of Francis Garchitorena, to cater to his needs.

All unwed fathers have three fundamental rights. First and foremost, he cannot be discriminated against. No employer may discriminate against an unwed father with respect to terms and conditions of employment on account of his status (Sec. 7, R.A. No. 8972). If he therefore applies for the position of telephone operator, his prospective boss cannot rule him out just because every afternoon his kid calls up and asks for help with homework.

Secondly, his employer cannot, except on meritorious grounds, deny an unwed father’s request for flexi-time. His employer must provide for a flexible working schedule provided it does not affect individual and company productivity (Sec. 6, R.A. No. 8972). If it is necessary that he observes broken hours to give him time to feed his new borne babe every three hours, so be it.


And thirdly, an unwed father who has rendered at least one year of service (regardless of whether that year was served on flexi-time) must be granted, in addition to what is given under existing laws, leave of not more than seven days every year (Sec. 8, R.A. No. 8972). There is no restriction on what he may or may not do during these seven days.

And since his favored status will cease as soon as his kid (who is not under any physical or mental disability) reaches the age of 18, an unwed father may devote these seven days into perpetuating himself in that state of life provided his flesh is willing and his women weak.

Now if his income falls below the poverty threshold of his domicile, he can avail himself of a package of assistance to be developed by the social services, health, education and culture, labor and local government departments as well as the National Housing Authority, Ched and Tesda along with local government units and non-governmental organizations with proven track record.

This package includes, as a start, livelihood development services giving him, among other items, basic business management capability and value orientation; counseling services that will help him resolve personal relationship and role conflicts; parents effectiveness service, such as, I suppose, enhancing his skill in changing diapers and sterilizing milk bottles; critical incidence stress debriefing in order to give him tools to handle an abusive partner; and other special projects, which may include legal assistance, but not necessarily of the quality dished out by the Leonardo De Veras of the legal world.

In addition, the Department of Health is to develop a comprehensive health care program for unwed fathers and their children, to be implemented by both the DOH and the local governments through their hospitals, medical centers and rural heath units (Sec. 11, R.A. No. 8972).

Finally, unwed fathers are to be given allocation in housing projects and are to be provided with liberal terms of payments on government low-cost housing projects in according with law (Sec. 10, R.A. No. 8972).

In fairness to Erap, however, it must be pointed out that he himself is not a beneficiary of R.A. No. 8972.

R.A. No. 8972 is a law for solo parents, not for parents of multiple families. A solo parent, moreover, maybe a father or a mother. So, the unwed father stands in perfect equality with the unwed mother and vice versa. But if I told you that, would you have kept on reading all the way up to the end?