Solons seek mandatory gov’t support for triplets, quadruplets & other multiple births PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 04 November 2013 14:43

House members are seeking the granting of mandatory government support for triplets, quadruplets and other higher order multiple births to assist parents who are faced with the problem of raising several children all at the same time yet are not economically prepared for such a situation.

Mandatory government support is being pushed by Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate who both noted that children of multiple births, aside from needing extra care and attention, also bring added financial expenses for the parents.

“Children of multiple births also means additional financial burden to the parents, doubling or tripling the expenses for every child as they grow older, and more so if they have disabilities,” said Colmenares.

Colmenares, a Senior Deputy Minority Leader, said as most of multiple birth incidents, the preparation of the parents having to raise more children than what was expected is an issue that calls for government concern, especially in relation to those coming from poor to middle class families.

After birth, he said extra care and attention is needed by these babies and even by their parents, logically, more than single births would require. “Thus, there is a need to extend not only maternity leave benefits, but also the paternity leave benefits, for both parents to help the children adjust to their predicament, and even the parents themselves as well,” Colmenares said.

Zarate, a first-term lawmaker, said mothers after being informed that they have multiple pregnancies experience happiness mixed with trepidation and uncertainty of their capacity to sustain the family.

“Corollary to that is the high expenses with extended hospital confinement and frequent hospital visits during the prenatal, delivery and postnatal check-ups including hospital obstetrical care, ultrasound scan, hospital visits, in-patient stay, delivery and postnatal care including admittance of the multiple-birth babies to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after birth,” said Zarate.

Zarate further said more often than not, death becomes unavoidable for one or more of the babies and even of the mothers resulting from complications during pregnancy or at childbirth. This situation then becomes doubly devastating for the family, psychologically and financially, according to him.

In House Bill 2613 or the proposed “Multiple Births Support Law of 2013,” Colmenares and Zarate underscored Section II of Art. XIII on Social Justice and Human Rights of the Constitution as basis for their proposal which declares “The State shall adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development which shall endeavor to make essential goods, health and other social services available to all people at affordable cost. There shall be priority for the needs of the underprivileged sick, elderly, disabled, women, and children. The State shall endeavor to provide free medical care to paupers.”

It refers to higher order multiples as triplets (three babies), quadruplets (four babies), quintuplets (five babies) or even more babies.

The bill provides that parents of higher order multiples shall be entitled to the following assistance free of charge: medical check-ups, surgery or surgeries, laboratory and other tests incidental to the prenatal, delivery and postnatal care of all mothers and multiples in all public hospitals and medical institutions; all funeral expenses in case of death or loss of any one of the higher order multiples or the mother shall be shouldered by the government; and paid paternity and maternity leave benefits.

Extended paternity and maternity leaves refer to seven extra seven days and 30 days granted for the employed father and mother of the multiples, respectively, in the public and private sectors. These are additional days to what is mandated by Article 133 of the Labor Code and Section 14-A of the Social Security Act of 1997 or Republic Act 8282.

The bill also provides for mandatory monthly support per child which shall be: health and nutrition support per child shall be equivalent to the prevailing daily minimum wage; and educational support per child shall be equivalent to one half of the prevailing daily minimum wage.

It also provides that support shall be availed of until legal age. There shall also be increased independence permitted by the parents or legal guardians. In case the child has physical or mental disability, the bill provides the support may be lengthened depending on the degree and type of disability.

Excluded from coverage of government support, shall be families of multiples earning an annual income exceeding that of the 5th income decile under the Total Family Income and Expenditures and Savings (FIES) at current prices.

The bill further provides the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) shall jointly issue the necessary rules and regulations to carry out the objectives of the proposed Act. The amount of P30 million shall be allocated for the first year of the proposed Act’s implementation.