House panel OKs bill promoting rights of foundlings

Published August 3, 2020, 4:47 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The House Committee on Welfare of Children approved Monday a bill seeking to promote the rights of deserted or abandoned children with unknown parents and to declare their status as country’s natural-born Filipino citizens.

(MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

After more than one hour of virtual deliberations, the House panel chaired by Tingog Sinirangan party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez passed House Bill No. 3472 or the proposed Foundling Welfare Act subject to amendments.  The bill is principally authored by Ang Probinsyano partylist Rep. Ronnie Ong.

Gabriela Women’s partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas moved for the approval of  HB 3472.

In his sponsorship speech, Ong said for the government to promote the welfare of abandoned infants and children, it should proactively and diligently inquiring into the facts of their birth and percentage and declare the status of the foundlings as natural-born citizens.

He lamented that at present, there is no legal framework that fully recognizes the foundlings as bonafide Filipino citizens.

“Simple lang po (It’s simple) why we filed this bill and it has always been our marching slogan – the best interest of the child,” he said.

He said on top of physical, emotional, and psychological disadvantages, there are a lot of legal disadvantages too for a foundling or someone abandoned with unknown facts of birth and parentage.

“For one, they are required to prove the impossible – proving their citizenship despite the unknown facts na hindi nila kasalanan (which is not their fault). Worse, for the simple reason na wala silang (they do not have) Certificate of Live Birth, we have closed the door for them to enjoy their rights as Filipinos – hindi makapasok sa school (they cannot go to school), hindi makakuha ng trabaho (they cannot secure a job), hindi puwede ikasal (they cannot get married), hindi magkaroon ng (they cannot have) driver’s license, government scholarship, passport, etc,” Ong said.

He described as “impossible, oppressive, and discriminatory”  the current requirement for foundlings to present physical proof of blood relation to a Filipino parent before they are considered natural-born citizen.

“Let us once and for all stop this anomaly, injustice, and discrimination. I ask the support of our esteemed Chairperson, my colleagues, and the agencies here to pass this bill and protect – not grant – the natural-born status of foundlings that has always been there,” Ong said.

Romualdez threw all-out support to Ong’s measure, citing that it is one of her panel’s “legislative priorities.”

Under HB 3472, foundlings shall be recognized as natural-born citizens of the Philippines, without need of perfection or any further act, and shall automatically be accorded such rights and protection as those belonging to such class of citizens. These include foundlings who are committed to orphanage and charitable or government institutions or those who have undergone or are undergoing adoption proceedings.

The bill also provides that such natural-born status of the child or infant shall not be impugned in any proceeding all the days of his or her life unless substantial proof of foreign parentage is shown. Such status shall not also be affected by the fact that the birth certificate of the child is simulated or that there was an absence of a legal adoption process, it said.

HB 3472 tasks the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or  any of its duly licensed institution or nongovernment organization (NGO) to conduct a proactive and diligent search and inquiry into the facts of birth and parentage of the child or infant, within 15 days after commitment or submission of foundling report by the finder or other concerned person, unless more time is needed in view of significant developments.

 
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