The Inter-Country Adoption Board (Icab) has signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperation with seven government agencies to stop child trafficking.
Among the signatories are representatives of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Justice, Department of Foreign Affairs, Bureau of Immigration, National Statistics Office, National Bureau of Investigation, and the Association of Child Caring Agencies of the Philippines.
Aside from institutionalizing working relationships among these agencies, the memorandum also enables the adoption board to investigate and file cases against “child trafficking syndicates and perpetrators of child abuse.”
Under the memorandum, the signatories shall establish a system for verifying documents and actual adoption, for
The signing happened during the 10th Global Consultation on Child Welfare Services hosted by the Philippines at Dusit Hotel in Makati City.
In a related development, Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., who was keynote speaker in the summit, said the signing of Republic Act 9523 has shortened the adoption process by about three weeks.
President Arroyo signed this piece of legislation last March 12, 2009.
“The new law does complete our desire to facilitate the adoption process,” he said. “The route towards declaring an abandoned child legally available for adoption is no longer a court function. It is now delegated by this law to the Secretary of DSWD.”
According to Pimentel, within seven days from the date of the recommendation of the DSWD regional director, the necessary certification may now be issued by the secretary that a child is legally available for adoption.
“The new law is, therefore, a step towards our goal to fully simplify the adoption system,” he said.
Rafael Tinio, board member of Icab, acknowledged that some “adoptive parents conspire with unscrupulous social workers” to speed up the process of adoption.
These social workers, he said, resort to producing fake documents. “That’s why there’s an increasing number of child trafficking because of these people.”
Children who are “victims” of international traffickers end up as either prostitutes or domestic workers, said lawyer Bernadette Abejo, executive director of Icab. “Worst-case scenario is that they are subjected to organ extraction,” she said.
Abejo thus stressed that in the Philippines, only Icab is allowed to process international adoptions.