MANILA—The House committee on social services chaired by Rep. Sandra Eriguel, M.D. (2nd District, La Union) recently approved the substitute bill to several proposals seeking to rectify simulated birth records to make the relationship between parent and child legal through administrative adoption proceedings.
The unnumbered measure substituted House Bills 328, 2065, 2324 and 3689 authored by Reps. Xavier Jesus Romualdo (Lone District, Camiguin), Mark Villar (Lone District, Las Piñas City), Rene Relampagos (1st District, Bohol) and Deputy Speaker and Pampanga Second District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, respectively.
House Bills 328, 2065 and 3689 seek to rectify the simulated birth records and prescribe administrative adoption proceedings while HB 2324 seeks to extend the prescriptive period for the rectification of simulated births by amending Republic Act 8552 or the “Domestic Adoption Act of 1998.”
“These bills were previously approved by the House on third and final reading in the 16th Congress,” said Eriguel
Simulation of birth 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 such a child’s biological mother, causing such child to lose his or her identity and status.”
Rectification of simulated births is provided for under RA 8552 but the prescribed five-year period for the rectification of simulated births ended in 2003.
Section 22 of RA 8552 states: “Rectification of Simulated Births. – A person who has, prior to the effectivity of this Act, simulated the birth of a child shall not be punished for such act: Provided, That the simulation of birth was made for the best interest of the child and that he/she has been consistently considered and treated by that person as his/her own son/daughter: Provided, further, That the application for correction of the birth registration and petition for adoption shall be filed within five years from the effectivity of this Act and completed thereafter: Provided, finally, That such person complies with the procedure as specified in Article IV of this Act and other requirements as determined by the Department.”
Romualdo, a 2012 bar topnotcher, said his refiled measure provided for a 10-year amnesty period to enable people to make legal the relationships with children they supposedly adopted.
Romualdo said his proposal provided for the administrative adoption where petitions for rectification and petitions for adoption could be filed with the local social welfare and development office.
“This will be decided by the regional directors of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and their decisions may be appealed to the DSWD Secretary,” he said.
Romualdo said the approval of the bill by Congress would provide poor people a much easier and less expensive way to legalize their supposed adoption relationships.
In his sponsorship speech, Romualdo said many well-meaning and mostly poor Filipinos who wished to adopt a child as their own resorted to the practice of simulating birth.
“However, simulation is a serious criminal offense and moreover does not have any legal effect on the status and family relationship of a child because only legal adoption can create the relationship of parent and child,” Romualdo said.
He explained that in the course of their discussion on the bill during the 16th Congress, it was discovered that a lot of people were not able to avail of the period for the rectification of simulated births provided for in RA 8552.
“This is because many of the people who would be affected found the process, specifically the judicial adoption process, to be very tedious and expensive,” Romualdo said.
Meanwhile, Relampagos wants to extend the prescriptive period for the rectification of simulated births by amending RA 8552.
His proposal seeks to amend Section 22 of RA 8552 so that: “A person who has simulated the birth of a child shall not be punished for such act: Provided, That the simulation of birth was made for the best interest of the child and that he/she has been consistently considered and treated by that person as his/her own daughter: Provided, further, That the application for correction of the birth registration and petition for adoption shall be filed within TWENTY (20) years from the effectivity of this Act and completed thereafter: Provided, finally, That such person complies with the procedure as specified in Article of this Act and the requirements as determined by the Department.”
In the explanatory note of his bill, which the body adopted as his sponsorship remarks, Relampagos said the current system of adoption has proven tedious and expensive for many parents who wanted to adopt.
Relampagos said because of this costly judicial proceeding, the practice of simulation of birth had become a convenient alternative.
He said simulation of births had remained the surreptitiously practiced adoption mechanism in the country.
Relampagos said more than providing amnesty for criminal and pecuniary liabilities, however, the purpose of the law was not primarily for the parents but for the protection of the child.
He said the rectification of the child’s birth records would give the child all the benefits of adoption and ensure his/her status as well as his/her rights under the law and society.
Arroyo said her bill sought to include major revisions presented to the committee by the DSWD
Arroyo proposed that administrative adoption proceedings should not be limited to those who were rectifying simulated birth records.
“It should be allowed for all who want to have adoption because the rules of adoption in the Philippines are very, very tedious and they don’t encourage adoption,” she said.
Arroyo said DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo has sought the repeal of the “Domestic Adoption Act of 1998” for the law is very unproductive.