MANILA - Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima has sought an investigation into the allegedly "rampant buying and selling of newborn babies" in the black market, citing earlier incidents reported in media.
In Senate Resolution No. 224, De Lima asked the Senate to investigate the alleged baby trade both online and in communities.
She cited investigative reports that recently uncovered "the insidious babies-for-sale trade" in Southeast Asian countries and other parts of the world allegedly under the control of syndicates.
"In the Philippines, where social media platforms are easily and widely accessed by many of our citizens, reports reveal that babies are sold on online channels such as Instagram and Facebook," De Lima said in the resolution.
"On the other hand, offline transactions occur outside public hospitals and in slum communities 'where 6 out of 10 women have either sold or know someone who has sold a baby, according to women in slum neighborhoods'," said De Lima, adding that poverty has fueled the trade.
She cited the American woman charged with human trafficking after she was caught at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport with a 6-day-old baby taken without the parents' consent in September.
De Lima also made reference to the viral report on a babysitter who took a 5-month-old baby from her family just last month in Taguig City. The baby was returned the next day, with the sitter claiming she did not intend to take the infant away.
“Despite the efforts of both the government and non-governmental organizations to address the illegal baby-for-sale trade, significant solutions remain to be elusive," said De Lima, who has continued to file legislative documents even while detained on drug charges for more than 2 years now.
De Lima pointed out that the baby trade was being aggravated by the "tedious, multilayered, and highly bureaucratic" system of adoption in the Philippines," which "takes years to process."
She said the National Bureau of Investigation was aware of the trade but added "the agency admitted that it “is hardly making a dent” on the matter."
“The State must ensure that in mobilizing government agencies in the creation of a peaceful environment that is free from crime and drugs, equal effort is exerted in protecting children and generations yet to come from predators that are operating in circumvention of and in violation of existing domestic and international laws,” De Lima said.
The Philippines has one of the fastest population growth rates in Southeast Asia, with about 4,659 babies born daily or three babies born per minute, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority's latest available figures from 2017.
Out of 1.7 million live births that year, 53.3 percent or more than 907,061 were born to unwed mothers.