Things to remember for Filipino minors traveling abroad

Ito yung apprehension ko eh, traveling to another country with Xavy considering he is a minor and an illegitimate. I’ve heard stories about how a consent from both parents is required if only one of the parent is traveling with the minor. Basically Xavy is legally considered illegitimate since his Dad and I are not married. Although his last name is his Dad’s because he did sign the paternity section, he is still considered illegitimate. Now because of all the child abduction and trafficking that’s happening in the country, all minors traveling out of the country regardless if illegitimate or not, they need a travel clearance issued by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). But there are exemptions as well.

I’m going to skip right through the part where Xavy is affected. He falls under the Children of Special Circumstances – Illegitimate children. The Family Code of the Philippines vests the mother with the parental authority over an illegitimate child (Article 176).

  1. If travelling with the mother, a DSWD travel clearance is not required.
  2. If travelling with a person other than the mother, a DSWD travel clearance is required.
  3. If travelling with the biological father, a DSWD travel clearance is required. However, if a Court Order has granted parental authority to the father, a DSWD travel clearance is not required.
  4. If travelling with an adult other than the mother, a DSWD travel clearance is required.

I was so worried when I filled for our Australian visa because one of the supporting documents indicated that there should be a statutory declaration from both parents giving consent for the child to visit Australia on the visa requested. I had a solo parent ID but I honestly forgot to attach it. Check out our blog post on how to get a solo parent ID. Thankfully it got approved even without those documents. Check out our blog post on how to apply for an Australian visitor visa online.

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So for other minors, here’s what you need to remember.

MINORS EXEMPTED FROM SECURING A TRAVEL CLEARANCE

The only exemptions to the DSWD travel clearance are minor children who are:

  • traveling with either parent
  • traveling with the legal guardian
  • immigrants to another country and are holding a valid permanent residency card, dependents visa, or other pass issued by another country which proves residency with parents abroad. A minor who holds a permanent residency card of another country, or a valid pass such as dependents visa/pass/identification or permanent resident visa/pass/identification card is no longer required to secure travel clearance from DSWD
  • not a Filipino citizen and are holding a foreign passport

A minor who is a Filipino citizen and living abroad but does not hold either a permanent resident visa or equivalent pass issued by another country is required to secure a travel clearance.

DSWD REQUIREMENTS FOR A TRAVEL CLEARANCE

The application for travel clearance and its documentary requirements are filed at any DSWD Field Office. The application form is available at all DSWD Field Offices and downloadable from DSWD website. The documentary requirements vary depending on whether the child is traveling alone or traveling with an adult other than a parent or legal guardian

  • For minors travelling alone to a foreign country for the first time
  1. Duly accomplished DSWD Travel Clearance application form
  2. Photocopy of either Birth Certificate or passport of the minor
  3. Written consent of both parents or the solo parent or the legal guardian permitting the minor to travel alone to a foreign country
  4. Proof of the consenting parent’s relation to the child, in one of the following forms:
    • (married parents) a photocopy of the marriage certificate of the minor’s parents
    • (legal guardian) a photocopy of the certificate of legal guardianship of the minor,
    • (solo parent) a photocopy of the solo parent identification card from the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office, a Local Social Welfare and Development Office, Tallaq or Faskh certification from the Shariah court or any Muslim Barangay or religious leader
    • (if child is illegitimate) a Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR) issued by the National Statistics Office (NSO)
    • (if parents are deceased) a photocopy of the death certificate
  5. Two colored passport size photos of the minor taken within the last six (6) months
  6. The DSWD social worker may require additional documentary requirements during the assessment of the Travel Clearance application to make sure that no child shall be trafficked and that the child’s best interest and welfare is ensured.
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  • For  minors travelling for the first time with a person other than the parents or legal guardian
  1. Duly accomplished DSWD Travel Clearance application form
  2. A photocopy of the birth certificate of minor
  3. A written consent of both parents or the solo parent or the legal guardian permitting the minor to travel to a foreign country with a specific person other than them
  4. As appropriate, a photocopy of the marriage certificate of the minor’s parents or a certificate of legal guardianship of the minor or in the case of solo parents, a solo parent identification card from the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office or a certification from the Local Social Welfare and Development Office of being a solo parent or a court decree of separation, annulment or divorce, or Tallaq or Fasakh certification from the Shariah court or any muslim barangay or religious leader or in the case of an illegitimate minor, a certificate of no marriage (CENOMAR) *from the National Statistics Office or in the case of a deceased parent, a photocopy of the death certificate
  5. Two colored passport photos of the minor taken within the last 6 months.
  6. Photocopy of the passport of the travelling companion
  • For minor illegitimate children travelling abroad with the biological father

A minor illegitimate child who is traveling abroad accompanied by the biological father is required to secure a travel clearance certificate as parental authority is vested only to the mother of the child, per Article 176 of the Family Code of the Philippines.

VALIDITY OF A DSWD TRAVEL CLEARANCE

A DSWD travel clearance is valid for a period of one (1) year from the date of issuance and shall be valid for multiple travels within the validity period, provided the conditions under which the travel clearance was issued have not changed. If a change in condition occurs like a change in traveling companion, a new travel clearance must be obtained.

OTHER CHILDREN OF SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

  • Orphaned minors who have no appointed legal guardian

The grandparents (paternal or maternal) who exercise parental authority over an orphaned minor may issue the consent even without guardianship order from the Court. But in cases where both the grandparents are deceased, the relatives or acting guardians of the minor should work for their legal guardianship over the minor.

  • Minors whose parents have marital conflict and on hold order

A minor who is the subject of ongoing custody battle between parents will not be issued a travel clearance unless a Court Order is issued to allow the child to travel abroad with either parent or authorized guardian.

A child whose name is included in the Bureau of Immigration’s watchlist of minors travelling abroad will be prevented from leaving the country.

ELECTRONIC OR FAX TRANSMISSION OF PARENTAL CONSENT

A faxed copy is acceptable. Likewise, a computer generated photo of minors and emailed documents are acceptable.

Kindly contact any DSWD Field Office for inquiries.

Getting a Solo Parent ID

Mabibilang lang siguro the number of people who really want to become solo parents right from the start. Majority of the millions of solo parents (there’s about 14 million solo parents in the country, according National Institutes of Health data) probably became solo parents because of  the various circumstances in their lives, and not by choice.

Being a solo parent is a huge task – my favorite line most days is “fuck my life“. There’s just no end to it. When I get off work, I have to take care of Xavy. I can’t get a break on my rest days as I have to work on my other jobs. Which is why every now and then I take out of town vacations on my own for a few days, ’cause if I don’t I think I’ll go insane. Anyways, being a solo parent comes with some benefits (thank goodness for the legistrators who made this happen).  We have the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000 or Republic Act No. 8972. One of the it’s benefits is the additional seven (7) days solo parent leave if you’re working.

The thing is you just have to get your solo parent ID from your local DSWD office. But wait, are you qualified? Technically a solo parent is any individual who has the sole responsibility of caring for a child, you and your husband (or boyfriend) are separated (recognized by the court or not), your spouse has passed on, or any other circumstance that has left you and the child on your own. I heard from the local social worker though that if you’re living with someone (if you have a new partner now), then you’re not qualified.

So here’s how I got mine:

  1. Get all the requirements:
    • Barangay Clearance – I had to pay for the documentary stamp
    • Xavy’s PSO issued birth certificate – I think I paid P150 at the PSO
    • Latest BIR Form 2316 from my employer
    • Other documents proving your solo parent status such as death certificate or declaration of nullity of marriage or a medical certificate for parents with a spouse who is incapacitated.
    • Solo Parent ID application form – got this at the social worker’s office.
  2. Submit all the requirements. The social worker interviewed me – asking the all the whys and what happened. She then told me to come back after two (2) weeks. She needed to visit our house and interview neighbors to confirm the story (but she never did visit). I got the card after a month (I was too busy). Then I had to go to the City Mayor’s office to personally have the card signed by the city mayor.

So what does the ID actually give me other than the additional seven (7) days leave?

  1. Flexible work schedule
    The benefit of a flexible work schedule can mean that you may ask your employer for an earlier or later time-in and time-out to suit your needs as a solo parent. This is considering that it will not affect core work hours (as defined by the employer) and individual and company productivity.
  2. Protection against work discrimination
    “No employer shall discriminate against any solo parent employee with respect to terms and conditions of employment on account of his/her status,” as stated in RA 8972.
  3. If applicable, additional support and assistance
    If the parent falls below the poverty threshold (as set by the National Economic and Development Authority) and is deemed eligible by a DSWD worker, the parent can avail of educational, housing, and medical benefits and assistance from the following agencies: Department of Health (DOH), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the National Housing Authority (NHA).

You can read the full article here.

Solo Parent’s benefits as recognized by law!

I am sure not a lot of solo parents are aware that there is such thing as RA 8972 also known as the “Solo Parent’s Welfare Act of 2000“. Oh well, there is. And if it wasn’t for one of my colleagues who has been exercising this right, I wouldn’t have known either.

So according to Atty. Nikki Jimeno on Smart Parenting, Republic Act 8972, or the “Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000”, was enacted to provide a comprehensive program of services for solo parents and their children. This law covers fathers or mothers who raise their children by themselves, either because of the death of a spouse, abandonment, separation, or even those who have children as a result of rape. This law also considers as a solo parent those who are left to care for children not their own, such as nephews, nieces, or godchildren. So long as you are a person solely responsible for the upbringing of a child, you are considered a solo parent under this Act.

Solo parents who meet the criteria given by the law, they are entitled to the following benefits:
(1) a flexible work schedule, 
(2) protection against discrimination in the work place, and 
(3) an additional seven-day parental leave on top of the leave privileges existing under law. 

There are other benefits like the housing and medical assistance but I don’t want to go into details about those for now. It’s good that our company has experience with employees who exercised their solo parents benefits. But if you’re not sure if your company will allow the additional 7 days solo parents leave, under the law, you are entitled to it, provided that:
(a) You have rendered at least one (1) year of service in the company, whether continuous or broken;
(b) You have notified your employer of the availment thereof within a reasonable time period; and
(c) You presented a Solo Parent Identification Card to your employer.

I do qualify for the points a-b. Now to get that Solo Parent Identification Card is the tricky thing. I went to City Social Welfare office and the social worker I talked to was not friendly at all. I think she stereotyped me as one of those call center agents who would apply for the Solo Parent ID so they could just enjoy it. I had to insist that it was our right as solo parents, the law will not question how we use these days.

So, according to the social worker, they have to do a case study which could last 2 months (according to her coz she has like 20 case studies pending under her assigned area). I was told to submit Xavier’s birth certificate and bring a 1×1 photo ID. It might be different for your local DSWD but just note that this Solo Parent ID has to be renewed every year.