Senate okays simplified adoption process

By Inquirer.net |December 10,2018 - 02:34 PM

Sen. Risa Hontiveros. Photo by Cathy Miranda/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a measure that would simplify the adoption process in the country.

Seventeen senators voted to approve Senate Bill 2081, or the Simulated Birth Rectification Act of 2018, which will allow the rectification of simulated births through a simpler administrative proceeding.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, chair of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality, said the bill seeks “to grant amnesty and allow 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” who considered the child as his or her own.

The bill’s counterpart measure was approved by the House of Representatives on August 29, 2017.

Hontiveros noted that the bill aims 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.

“To remedy the problem of a lengthy and financially restrictive adoption proceedings, this bill likewise proposes a simpler and less costly administrative adoption process without compromising the safety and integrity of the child,” she said.

“Birth simulation,” according to the measure, is the tampering of the civil registry to make it appear in the birth record that a child was born to a person who is not the child’s biological mother.

Moreover, the measure’s principal author Senator Grace Poe cited Republic Act 8552, or the “Domestic Adoption Act,” which recognizes informal adoptions or simulated births.

“While Section 21 (b) of the said 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), it also provided for an amnesty for those who did so for the best interest of the child,” Poe said.

“However, this amnesty resulted in a lacuna in the law in that it only allowed the rectification of those who 1) did so before the effectivity of the law on 22 March 1998; and (2) filed a petition for adoption within five (5) years from the effectivity of the Act or until 22 March 2003,” she added.

The senator explained that the said provision makes the adoption process “tedious and excessively costly for ordinary Filipinos.”

“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, the bill will allow those who simulated the birth record of a child to 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 petition will then be decided on by the secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) within 30 days from receipt of the recommendation of the department’s regional director.

Once all requirements for administrative adoption have been met, the child shall be considered the legitimate child of a person and as such is entitled to all rights and obligations provided by law to legitimate children born to them.

Poe noted that if the measure is passed into law, it will give adoptive parents the opportunity to have the status of their adopted child or children be regularized in law.

“It is also in the best interest of the parents and the children to have the records rectified for possible future uses such as medical or DNA purposes or for other legal matters,” she said.

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