Press Release
May 25, 2021


Mr. President, dear colleagues, with due respect for the time and for the other urgent bills of our colleagues, I will keep this short.

It is my honor to sponsor on the floor Committee Report No. 263 which consolidates Senate Bill No. 56, filed by Senators Lito Lapid and Leila de Lima, and Senate Bill No. 221, filed by yours truly taking into account House Bill No. 7679.

Mr. President, it is the duty of the legislature to protect the rights and welfare of all Filipinos - but most especially the least, the last and the lost. Foundlings - or deserted and abandoned children with unknown facts of birth and parentage -- would certainly fit into this category.

This bill provides a legal regime and institutionalizes the status of foundlings in this country, drawing from the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of Poe-Llamanzares vs. COMELEC, in which the High Court ruled that our very own colleague is a natural-born citizen. The bill ensures our compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, which mandate the right of every child to a name and nationality.

The bill also lays down the process for the registration of foundlings and ensures that a Certificate of Live Birth will be issued without inordinate delay, and after searching and comprehensive inquiries have been made by the Department of Social Welfare and Development as to the parentage of the child. Further, it also seeks to protect children of Filipino parentage born abroad who cannot be registered in their country of birth. In many Philippine shelters in the Middle East for example, babies born out of wedlock to Filipino citizens and foreign nationals are stateless and their birth is considered the product of a crime.

Further, proceeding from the principle that the best interest of the child shall be the primordial consideration, the bill also institutionalizes "safe havens," which shall allow parents who are really unable to care for their child to give her up in a manner than ensures the child's safety and protection. The "safe haven" concept, patterned after legislation in nearly all states in the United States and drawn from the legislative proposal of the late great Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, will hopefully reduce horrific stories of babies who are abandoned in creeks or dark alleys by parents who are afraid of criminal prosecution for abandonment.

Mr. President, with this legislative measure already passed in the House of Representatives on third reading, it is truly my heartfelt hope that the 18th Congress is the Congress that finally shines the protective light of policy and the law on our foundlings.

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