MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Monday, December 10, approved on 3rd and final reading a bill that seeks to simplify the adoption process in the country.
Voting 17-0, senators passed Senate Bill No. 2081 or the Simulated Birth Rectification Act of 2019, sponsored by Senate committee on women, children, family relations, and gender equality chairperson Risa Hontiveros.
"To remedy the problem of 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," Hontiveros said.
The bill seeks to grant amnesty and to correct the status of a child whose birth was simulated. According to the measure, 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. Simulated births are also recognized as informal adoptions.
The House of Representatives passed a counterpart measure last August. The bill is now up for review of the bicameral conference committee, where differences between the two versions would be threshed out. After which, it would be sent to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing into law.
Under the bill and 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 secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development 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 is entitled to all rights and obligations provided by law to legitimate children.
Senator Grace Poe, author of the bill, said the measure would give adoptive parents the opportunity to have the status of their adopted child or children 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.
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org