DoJ thumbs down DSWD child support plan

According to Remulla, the ruling belongs to other government agencies such as the Public Attorney’s Office.

The Department of Justice has rejected the plan of Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Secretary Erwin Tulfo to flag erring fathers and compel them to support financially their children to prevent possible civil and criminal liabilities.

DoJ Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, in a five-page legal opinion, said that while “the intention is noble,” the plan may already constitute providing legal service to the minor children, which is not among the duties and functions of the DSWD under its charter.

According to Remulla, the ruling belongs to other government agencies such as the Public Attorney’s Office.

“After a careful study and consideration of your query, we note that the proposed act of the DSWD to write a letter to the fathers, presumably on behalf of the minor child/children, to remind them to give financial support, as ‘there are civil and criminal consequences under the law if financial support is not properly given’, may be outside of the DSWD’s stated mandate, powers and functions under Executive Order 292, otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987, and the DSWD Citizen’s Charter of 2022,” said the DoJ.

The DoJ legal opinion was issued in response to the letter of Tulfo seeking its position on whether the DSWD can write a letter to the named father in the child’s birth certificate simply to remind him of his obligation under the law to provide financial support to his minor child and that his failure to do so has corresponding civil and criminal consequences.

The query of Tulfo stemmed from reports that there are erring fathers whose names appear in their child/children’s certificate of live birth but failed to give them financial support.

Tulfo noted that such failure on the part of the father is considered violation of the provisions of Republic Act 9262, also known as the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004.

But the DoJ noted that the phrase “there are civil and criminal consequences under the law if financial support is not ‘properly given” in the proposed letter, can be likened to a demand letter to the fathers and make it appear that the DSWD is lawyering on behalf of the minor or children.

“Moreover, only the courts can legally compel those fathers to give financial support to their child/children pursuant to a case filed for that purpose,” the DoJ legal opinion said.


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