MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law that will make legal adoption of children simpler.
Duterte signed on Feb. 21 Republic Act 11222 or the “Simulated Birth Rectification Act,” according to a copy of the law obtained by ABS-CBN News.
Simulation of birth is defined under the law as 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 child’s biological mother, causing the loss of the true identity and status of such child.”
The law allows the rectification of simulated birth of a child where the simulation was made “for the best interest of the child, and that such child has been consistently considered and treated by the person or persons who simulated such birth as her, his, or their own daughter or son.”
It also fixes 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.
Those who simulated the birth record of a child prior to the law’s effectivity shall be exempt from criminal, civil, and administrative liability, provided that a petition for adoption with an application for the rectification of the simulated birth record is filed 10 years from the law’s effectivity.
According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), some 6,500 children are awaiting adoption.
REQUIREMENTS AND PROCESS
To make adoption simpler and less costly, the law also allows administrative adoption proceeding if the child has been living with the adoptive parents for at least 3 years before the measure’s effectivity and the DSWD declared the child legally available for adoption.
According to the law, adopters must be a Filipino citizen, be of legal age, possess full civil capacity and legal rights, and be of good moral character.
They must also 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.
For married couples 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 3 consecutive years prior to the filing of the petition for adoption and application for rectification of simulated birth record.
The written consent of the adoptee is needed if he or she is 10 years old or over. The same is also needed from the “legitimate and adopted daughters and sons, 10 years old and above, of the adopter and adoptee, if any.”
Written consent is also required from the “illegitimate daughters and son, 10 years old and above, of the adopter if living with said adopter and the latter’s spouse, if any.”
The spouse of an adoptee, if any, is also required to file a written consent for the adoption process to start.
According to the law, the petition shall be supported by a copy of the simulated birth or foundling certificate of the child, affidavit of admission if the simulation of birth was done by a third person, a certification by the village chief attesting that the child has been living with the petitioner, and a certificate declaring the child legally available for adoption from the DSWD.
Also required are the affidavits of at least two disinterested persons who reside in the same barangay where the child resides, attesting that the child has been living with the petitioner for at least three years prior to the law’s effectivity.
Once the requirements are completed, the adopter shall file the petition with the city or town’s social welfare and development officer. The petition will pass through the regional director and then the secretary of the DSWD.
If the adoption petition is granted, the adoptee shall be considered the legitimate daughter or son of the adopter “for all intents and purposes and as such is entitled to all the rights and obligations provided by law to legitimate daughters or sons born to them without discrimination of any kind.”
“Except where a biological parent is the spouse of the adopter, all legal ties between the biological parents and the adoptee shall be severed and the same shall then be vested in the adopter,” the law reads.
Adoption may be rescinded if the adopter committed repeated physical or verbal maltreatment to the adoptee, made an attempt on the life of the adoptee, sexually assaulted the adoptee, or abandoned and failed to comply with parental obligations.
A petition for rescission of adoption may be filed by the adoptee with the assistance of the DSWD if he or she is a minor or over 18 years old but incapacitated.
If the petition for rescission is granted, the parental authority of the adoptee’s biological parents shall be restored if the adoptee is still a minor or incapacitated.
The law also penalizes with imprisonment ranging from 6 years and 1 day to 12 years, and/or a fine of no less than P200,000 those who obtain consent for an adoption through coercion, undue influence, fraud, improper inducement, or other similar acts.
Noncompliance with the procedures and safeguards provided by the law for adoption, as well as subjecting or exposing the child to be adopted to danger, abuse or exploitation are also punishable under the law.