PH House OKs bill recognizing orphans as natural-born Filipinos

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A BILL seeking to recognize “foundlings” or abandoned children as natural-born Filipinos has been approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives.

The House Committee on the Welfare of Children on Monday, October 5, approved House Bill No. 7679 or the “Foundling Welfare Act” with 220 affirmative votes.

The measure, principally authored by Ang Probinsyano party-list Representative Ronnie Ong, seeks to promote the rights and welfare of orphans with unknown parents and protect their status as natural-born Filipino citizens.

“A foundling is a natural-born Filipino citizen regardless of the status or circumstances of birth. As natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a foundling is accorded with rights and protection at the moment of birth as those belonging to such class of citizens whose citizenship does not need perfection or any further act,” the bill reads.

HB 7679 entitles orphans to a Certificate of Live Birth instead of a Foundling Certificate, as well as provides for the procedure for the issuance of a birth certificate by the Office of the Civil Registrar under the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The bill also grants orphans all rights entitled to them as Filipinos such as equal access to government programs and services, which include the facilitation of documents for adoption, education, and legal and police protection, as well as basic social services such as education, healthcare and nutrition.

It further directs the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), along with its accredited child-caring centers and licensed and accredited social welfare agencies, to conduct proactive and diligent search and inquiry into the facts of birth and parentage of the orphans.

Section 10 of the measure penalizes those who would use the abandoned children’s status in a derogatory manner, treat them as second-class citizens, or discriminate against orphans in terms of education, scholarship, practice of profession, and services.

Tingog Sinirangan party-list Representative Yedda Marie Romualdez, chair of the House Committee on Welfare of Children and co-author of HB 7679, said that the passage of the bill “is a crucial step towards correcting the injustice against abandoned Filipino children.”

“This proposed measure seeks to assert that the most vulnerable among us deserve our respect, care and empathy. It intends to protect and uphold the rights of children regardless of the status of their birth and whether or not their parentage is known,” she added.

Romualdez also noted that abandoned children without birth certificates often experience discrimination in their lives.

“The fact that foundlings are not be issued birth certificates has left on them a stigma that they carry all their lives and has resulted even in discrimination, especially when a birth certificate is required when enrolling for school admission, applying for jobs and even in being issued a passport,” she said.

“It is not surprising that many foundlings are always on the back burner, and are lost to poverty, crime, prostitution, neglect, and unemployment,” she added.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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