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Tingog aids Pinoy Foundlings

February 16, 2022 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 326 views

THE principal author of the proposed Foundling Welfare Act, which seeks to recognize “foundlings”– a term used for deserted or abandoned children– as natural-born Filipinos on Tuesday thanked the House of Representatives and the Senate for ensuring the passage of the measure.

AP party-list nominee Ronnie Ong said the Senate has recently approved the enactment of the bill while the House version (House Bill 7679) which was authored by Ong, was passed last October 5, 2021.

Tingog party-list Rep. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez, chairperson of the House committee on the welfare of children that approved the measure, said the bill is a crucial step towards correcting the injustice against abandoned Filipino children.

Romualdez said Ong’s measure aims to protect the rights and welfare of deserted and abandoned children with unknown parents by recognizing them as natural-born Filipino citizens whose citizenship do not need perfection or any further act.

“The passage of the proposed Foundling Welfare Act here in the House is a crucial step towards correcting the injustice against abandoned Filipino children,” said Romualdez.

“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.

To fast track the passage of the proposal, Ong said the House of Representatives agreed to adopt the Senate version and is now awaiting President Duterte’s signature.

“The Foundling law is a signature away from becoming law. There is no longer a need to go to bicam because we have just adopted the Senate version considering that both versions are almost the same, if not completely identical,” Ong said.

Ong said the Foundling Welfare Act has presented clarity on the current status of foundlings who are regarded as stateless and are not entitled to access to government services.

He underscored the importance of this landmark legislation as it does not only declare foundlings as natural-born citizens of the Philippines but also penalizes acts inimical to their welfare.

“Many people do not know that foundlings, upon growing up, are required to prove the impossible to gain citizenship or even have their own identities under the law. To prove their citizenship, they have to show proof that their parents are Filipinos despite not knowing them at all their whole lives. Hirap silang makapasok sa school, hindi makakuha ng trabaho, hindi pwede ikasal, hindi magkaroon ng driver’s license, government scholarship, passport, at marami pang iba. Noong nakaraang taon lang din naisapasa na makakakuha na sila ng birth certificate kahit na foundling sila,” Ong said.

“These children didn’t even ask to end up in these circumstances, and they don’t deserve to be treated as second-class citizens. Let us once and for all stop this injustice and discrimination that has been going on for many decades already,” Ong added.

Under the bill, foundlings found in the Philippines or Philippine embassies, consulates, and territories abroad shall be accorded with rights and protection at the moment of their birth, and be entitled to every available government program or service. These include registration, facilitation for adoption, legal and police protection, education, proper nourishment, medical care, and admission to safe and secure child centers.

A foundling shall, as a matter of right, be entitled to every available government program or service, including registration, facilitation of documents for adoption, education, legal and police protection, proper nourishment and medical care for survival and development, and admission to safe and secure child centers.

The DSWD or its accredited child caring center or licensed and accredited SWDAs, the concerned LGUs, police authority and the finder shall, at all times, consider the CHILD’S best interest in all actions or support services provided for a foundling.