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Duterte signs law simplifying adoption process

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law simplifying the adoption process.

Duterte signed Republic Act 11222 (Simulated Birth Rectification Act) on February 21, a copy of which was released by Malacañang to the media on Thursday.

The law aims 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.

It also aims to fix the status and filiation of a child whose birth was simulated by giving such child all the benefits of adoption and ensuring that such child shall be entitled to all the rights provided by law to legally adopted children, “without discrimination of any kind, as well as to love, guidance, and support from the child’s adoptive family.”

Data from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) showed that about 6,500 children have been declared available for adoption, almost 4,000 of them are under the care of the government and non-government residential care facilities.

Simulation of birth as defined by the law 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.

Under the law, 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 for adoption may do so through the Social Welfare and Development Officer of the city or municipality where the child resides.

The law allows administrative adoption proceedings if the child has been living with the supposed parents for at least three years  and the DSWD declares the child legally available for adoption.
The DSWD Secretary 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 born to them.

The law says adopters must be a Filipino citizen, be of legal age, possess full civil capacity and legal rights, and be of good moral character, have not been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude, be emotionally and psychologically capable of caring for children, and be in a position to support and care for the child in keeping with the means of family.

In case of adoption by a married couple, where one of the adopters is a foreign national married to a Filipino, the foreign national must have been residing in the Philippines for at least three consecutive years prior to the filing of the petition for adoption and application for rectification of simulated birth record.

The law requires the written consent of the adoptee if he or she is 10 years old or over as well as from legitimate and adopted daughters and sons, 10 years old and above, of the adopter and adoptee, if any.

This also applies to the spouse of an adoptee, if any, and illegitimate daughters and sons, 10 years old and above, of the adopter if living with said adopter and the latter’s spouse, if any.

According to the law, adoption may be rescinded if the adopter made repeated physical or verbal maltreatment to the adoptee, made an attempt on the life of the adoptee, committed sexual assault on the adoptee, abandoned and failed to comply with parental obligations.

Other acts that are detrimental to the psychological and emotional development of the adoptee could also be a basis for rescinding an adoption.

The adoptee may file a petition for rescission of adoption with the DSWD.

If the petition is granted by the DSWD Secretary, the parental authority of the adoptee’s biological parents, if known, shall be restored if the adoptee is still a minor or incapacitated.

“The reciprocal rights and obligations of the adopter and adoptee to each other shall be extinguished,” the law stated.

Obtaining consent for an adoption through coercion, undue influence, fraud, improper inducement, or other similar acts is punishable by a jail term ranging from six years and one day to 12 years, and/or a fine of not less than P200,000.

The same penalties also apply to those found guilty by the court of noncompliance with the procedures and safeguards provided by the law for adoption, and subjecting or exposing the child to be adopted to danger, abuse or exploitation.

The law will take effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation. —KBK, GMA News