Press Release
December 17, 2008


Senator Jamby Madrigal, chair of the Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations expressed her elation for having the bill on the Declaration of a Child Legally Available for Adoption unanimously approved by the Bicameral Conference Committee. "I'm so glad that SB 2391 is one step closer to being a law. Para sa'kin daig pa nito ang pagkapanalo ni Paquiao!"

"Being a human rights advocate most especially that of children makes this development a personal victory. Every little step we make leads us to helping uplift the lives of these abandoned, neglected and surrendered children for adoption," she said.

During the bicameral conference committee meeting held yesterday, the House panel comprised of Rep. Jose Carlos Lacson, Rep. Matias Defensor and Rep. Mar-len Abigail Binay unanimously agreed on the reconciled version of Senate Bill No. 2391 or "AN ACT REQUIRING THE CERTIFICATION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL WELFARE AND DEVELOPMENT (DSWD) TO DECLARE A 'CHILD LEGALLY AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION' AS A PREREQUISITE FOR ADOPTION PROCEEDINGS."

In particular, SBN 2391 seeks the transfer of cases involving the declaration of a child legally available for adoption from the Family Courts to the DSWD, thereby changing the nature of this proceeding from judicial to administrative and reducing the period before the child may be considered legally available for adoption to a maximum of three months from the original minimum of six months.

Sen. Madrigal has been very vocal of her support for SBN 2391 intended to uplift the lives of abandoned children cast off largely because of poverty. "These children live in a bleak, desperate world made more tragic by laws which hinder their chances to find a fresh start in loving homes. As a legislator, I must do everything I could to try to demolish the legal obstacles that prevent orphans and the abandoned to secure what we take for granted," she said.

The DSWD records show that in the Eastern Visayas alone, the number of reported abandoned children rose from 44 in 2005 to 51 and 53 in 2008 and 2007 respectively. At present, these children are only considered abandoned if they have been deserted by their parents for six straight months. In the meantime, these children are in danger of fending for themselves in the streets and are vulnerable to drug addiction, crimes and sexual trafficking.

This bill seeks to remove legal handicaps in existing laws that prolong the neglect of these children. It facilitates early placement of abandoned children by giving the DSWD the authority to issue a certification declaring the child legally available for adoption as a prerequisite to all adoption proceedings. The bill limits the period for the child to be declared legally available for adoption from almost three years in court proceedings to less than two months.

According to Sen. Madrigal, this is a landmark bill for children's rights advocates like herself who believe that the Filipino children are the hope of this nation. "Every child has a right to a family. Let us not deny them that by removing legal handicaps," she emphasized.

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