Sen. Grace Poe rallied the Filipinos to be united when it concerns child rights and welfare as she hailed the signing of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of two child-friendly laws.
“When it comes to child rights and welfare, isang bansa po tayo,” she said in a speech at the ceremonial signing of the IRR of the Simulated Birth Rectification Act (RA 11222) and the Masustansyang Pagkain Para sa Batang Pilipino Act (RA 11037) at the central office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Quezon City Monday.
Poe said the IRR will set in motion the implementation of the two laws, which she both authored.
“I’m extremely glad the IRRs are done. Without them the laws remain as dreams unfulfilled,” she said.
Republic Act No. 11037 or the Masustansyang Pagkain Para sa Batang Pilipino Act for undernourished children in public elementary school, kindergarten, and daycare centers mandates the provision of free meals for at least 120 days to undernourished children aged 3 to 5 years old in public daycare centers, and to public school children from kindergarten to Grade 6. Around 4.2 million Filipino children will benefit from this law.
Republic Act 11222 or the Simulated Birth Rectification Act makes adoption process in the Philippines a simpler administrative proceeding.
The measure would “grant amnesty and allow the rectification of the simulated birth of a child where the simulation was made for the best interest of the child.”
Poe said she expects the feeding program law will have a smooth implementation, especially with the budget allocated for it in 2020.
The Department of Education will receive P5.98 billion for its school-based feeding program, while the DSWD will get P3.6 billion for its free meals for preschoolers.
She said the combined budget for the two feeding programs is P1.1 billion higher than last year’s and could still go up during the Senate deliberation of the proposed appropriations.
“I believe that the feeding program is linked to many outcomes. It incentivizes school and daycare attendance. It is a preventive measure that pre-empts health expenses that malnutrition incurs,” she said.
As for the Simulated Birth Rectification Act, the law grants amnesty, rectifies the simulated birth of a child, fixes his status, assigns to the child legal rights, expunges criminal, civil and administrative liabilities, and provides for a less costly and faster process.
“Ang sabi nga ng isang adoptive parent, ‘Ilang segundo lang putulin ang umbilical cord. Pero ang red tape na nakapulupot sa aming anak ay tila mas mahaba at mas mahirap alisin’,” Poe said.
As a legally adopted child herself, Poe said her adoptive parents, the late National Artist Fernando Poe Jr. and award-winning actress Susan Roces, took pains of making her their own child.
“Ang pinagdaanan ng aking mga magulang para ako’y ma-legally adopt ay hindi biro. I was found in 1968, and I believe that the process was not finished until 1974. But they really worked on it at least within the next year that I was found. At that time, wala pa talagang mga kasong ganyan. Kasi pinapalaki na lang nila ang anak ng kamag-anak nila. But my mom had the foresight to say, ‘Mahihirapan ‘yan if we don’t legalize it,'” she said.
Poe said consultation with various organizations of adoptive parents, child rights advocates and the DSWD led her to file Senate Bill No. 1070 or the Domestic Administrative Adoption Act.
She said the measure would provide the missing piece in search for a better system of adoption.
“Sinasalamin po ng bill na ito ang paniniwala that an administrative proceeding will hasten the process, minimize the cost, declog our courts, and prod more people to embark on the legal fast track to adopting a child,” she said.
Poe cited 2018 statistics, which revealed that close to 6,500 Filipino children are in need of a permanent home. Of this number 3,793 children have already been made legally available for adoption since 2009.
“I have said this before, but I share this with you again today, adopting one child may not change the world; but will certainly change the world for that child,” Poe said.