Ang Probinsyano partylist Rep. Ronnie Ong has expressed confidence that the bill seeking to promote the rights of deserted or abandoned children with unknown parents will be enacted into law within this year.
The principal author of the proposed Foundling Welfare Act said House Bill No. 7679, which seeks to declare the foundlings’ status as country’s natural-born Filipino citizens, has been transmitted to the Senate for its action.
“It has been transmitted to the Senate. We are hopeful and confident it will be enacted into law within the year,” Ong said in a text message.
He said they have been coordinating with their Senate counterparts to ensure the immediate passage of the bill.
“There is a version in the Senate by Sen. Lito Lapid. It is almost similar with the House version, but we are talking to them if they can adapt same version,” said the partylist lawmaker who sits as vice chairperson of House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Games and Amusements, Rural Development, and Tourism.
During its Oct. 5 hybrid plenary session, the House of Representatives, voting 220 with no objection and abstention, approved on third and final reading HB No. 7679.
Ong said once enacted into law, foundlings would be entitled to all available government programs and services, including facilitation of documents for adoption, education, legal and police protection, and basic social services such as education, healthcare, and nutrition.
He said under the proposed Foundling Welfare Act, 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, Ong said.
“We were told that those who have less in life should have more in law. But in the case of foundlings, unfortunately, they who have very less in this life still have so much less in our laws. Neglected by their parents at first, and still neglected by our country for the rest of their lives. Let us once and for all stop this anomaly, injustice and discrimination that has been going on for many decades already,” he said.
Ong noted that under the House-approved bill, any individual found to be filing a malicious complaint for the purpose of harassing, persecuting, or injuring a foundling would be penalized with a P1 million to P5 million fine and imprisonment of three months to two years.
To be penalized under the measure are those persons who would use the status of a child as foundling in a derogatory manner or who would cause dishonor to a foundling as a second-class citizen, and those who would discriminate against foundlings in terms of education, scholarship, practice of profession, and services.