MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe, a foundling herself, filed a bill seeking to provide greater protection for abandoned children.
Senate Bill 2892, an Act Strengthening the System of Birth Registration of Children in Need of Special Protection (CNSP), mandates persons in custody of a foundling to bring the child, within 48 hours, to either barangay or police officials, a child-care foundation, or the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
If the receiving agency has determined that the child has no caregiver or guardian, the DSWD or the custodian should register the child within 60 days and obtain a Certificate of Live Birth for the foundling.
The neophyte senator, citing UNICEF, said 1.7 million children in the Philippines do not have birth documents, and are deprived of access to basic health, educational and protection services.
“An unregistered child not only will have diminished access to medical, educational and social benefits provided by the State; he/she is likewise susceptible to the abuses on account of minority such as commercial and sexual exploitation, abuse and human trafficking,” Poe said in a statement issued Sunday, August 9.
Poe, herself a foundling adopted by movie stars Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces, said she does not want abandoned children to be considered as second-class citizens just because their parents are unknown.
“Maraming ganyan ang nag-umpisa sa wala, pero nagtrabaho o pinagpalang mayroong nagpalaki katulad ng mga magulang ko. Babalewalain ko na lang ba iyon?” she said.
(There are many that started from nothing but they worked hard or were blessed to have been raised by parents like mine. Should I just take these for granted?)
Poe's proposal came days after Rizalito David, a defeated senatorial candidate in 2013, filed a disqualification case against her before the Senate Electoral Tribunal, on the grounds of her alleged questionable citizenship and residency.