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Arroyo signs measure fast-tracking adoption process

March 12, 2009 9:44pm
MANILA, Philippines - President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Thursday signed into law a bill that seeks to hasten the adoption process of abandoned or neglected children, including infants.

Republic Act 9523, or the "Declaration of a Child Legally Available for Adoption," also aims to lessen the exposure to dangers in the streets, crimes, sexual trafficking and drug use of abandoned or neglected children.

The law seeks to remove legal handicaps in existing laws that prolong the neglect of these children. It facilitates early placement of abandoned children by giving the DSWD the authority to issue a certification declaring the child legally available for adoption as a prerequisite to all adoption proceedings. This task was previously handled by Family Courts.

Also, the law limits the period for the child to be declared legally available for adoption from almost three years in court proceedings to less than two months.

Those who witnessed the signing were Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral; Senate Majority leader Juan Miguel Zubiri; Senate Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations chairperson Ma. Anna Consuelo "Jamby" Madrigal; and Reps. Matias Defensor (Quezon City), Amelita Villarosa (Minodoro), Rachel Arenas (Pangasinan), and Monica Louse Prieto-Teodoro (Tarlac).

The law is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 2391 that was principally authored by Senators Aquilino Pimentel, Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Loren Legarda; and House Bill No. 10 by Rep. Jose Carlos Lacson and co-authored by Reps. Defensor, Teodoro, Raul del Mar, Bienvenido Abante Jr., Fredenil Castro and Eufrocino Codilla Sr.

The new law amends three earlier adoption-related laws, namely: RA 8552, the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998; RA 8043, the Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995; and Presidential Decree (PD) 603, the Child and Welfare Code.

"Every child has a right to a family. Let us not deny them that by removing legal handicaps," said Madrigal, who welcomed the signing into law of the bill.

Cabral, for her part, said that apart from fast-tracking the adoption of an abandoned child, the new law would help in de-clogging court dockets, lessening the lost time that a child may have in a “nurturing family environment”, and the lessening of the negative effect of a child's prolonged stay in an institution. - GMANews.TV