By Mario Casayuran
When it resumes regular session tomorrow after a month-long Christmas break, Congress is expected to ratify a bill seeking to do away with the current lengthy court proceedings in the adoption process of some 6,000 “unwanted’’ children.
Hopefully, the measure will be signed into law by President Duterte in time for a week-long Adoption Consciousness Celebration from February 10 to 18.
The House of Representatives has been tasked to consolidate Senate Bill 2081 and House Bill 5675, the “Simulated Birth Rectification Act of 2018” that both legislative houses have ratified, and transmit it to Malacanang for the President’s signature.
Records from the Department of Social Welfare and Development DSWD) showed that about 6,500 children have been declared available for adoption, with almost 4,000 of them under the care of the government and non-government residential care facilities.
Under the measure, prospective parents need not undergo the lengthy judicial process in the adoption of a child, which usually takes more than six months to complete.
The bill also “grants amnesty and allows the rectification of the simulated birth of a child where simulation was made for the best interest of the child, and that such child has been consistently considered and treated by the person.”
“Birth simulation” refers to the tampering of the civil registry to make it appear in the record of birth that a child was born to a person who is not the child’s biological mother.
Republic Act 8552, also known as the Domestic Adoption Act, “penalizes any person who shall cause the fictitious registration of the birth of a child under the name(s) of a person(s) who is not his/her biological parent(s).”
This provision makes adoption process “tedious and excessively costly for ordinary Filipinos,” Senator Grace Poe, principal author of the bill, said.
“This leaves a lot of adoptees under assumed filiation, and unduly deprived of the benefits of legitimacy and succession,” Poe said.
To fast-track the adoption process, those who simulated the birth record of a child should be exempt from criminal, civil and administrative liability provided that the application to rectify a simulated birth record should be filed within 10 years from the effectivity of the measure.
Instead of going through the courts, those who will file a petition may do so through the Social Welfare and Development Officer of the city or municipality where the child resides.
The DSWD Secretary shall decide on the petition within 30 days from receipt of the recommendation of the department’s regional director.
After all requirements for administrative adoption have been met, the child shall be considered the legitimate child of a person, and, as such, would be entitled to all rights and obligations provided by law to legitimate children born to them.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality which steered the passage of the measure, said the bill seeks to correct the status of a child whose birth was simulated by opening the avenue for a legal adoption that the child may enjoy all the benefits offered by the law to legally adopted children.