House Bill Recognizing Abandoned Children As Filipino Citizens Hurdles Congress, Awaiting Duterte’s Signature

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MANILA, Philippines — House Bill 7679 or “The Foundling Welfare Act,” which promotes the protection and recognition of foundlings or abandoned children, has hurdled both the lower and the upper house of Congress and is now just awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature, or for it to lapse into law after 30 days.

The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill 7679 last October 5, 2021, while the Senate approved on third and final reading Senate Bill No. 2233 or the “Foundling Recognition and Protection Act,” last January 31, 2022.

The Foundling Welfare Act, authored and sponsored by AP Partylist Rep. Ronnie Ong, declares foundlings as natural-born citizens of the Philippines, as well as 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, — that is, proving their Filipino citizenship by giving proof that their parents are Filipinos despite not knowing them at all their whole lives. Hindi 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.

AP Partylist Rep. Ronnie Ong

Under the present law, children whose parentage are unknown, are required to present physical proof of blood relation to a Filipino parent before he or she is considered to be a natural-born citizen. Under the proposed Foundling Welfare Act, these children shall be recognized as natural-born citizens of the Philippines, without the need of perfection or any further act, and shall automatically be accorded such rights and protection as those belonging to such class of citizens. These include foundlings who are committed to orphanages and charitable or government institutions, or those who have undergone or are undergoing adoption proceedings.

Senator Grace Poe, who herself is a foundling and faced disqualification cases because of it when she ran for President in 2016, expressed her gratitude and support to the Foundling Welfare Act.

Napakalaking bagay nito para sa mga foundlings. Masaya po akong mawawala na ang mga batang ipinagkaitan hindi lamang ng mga magulang kundi pati karapatan at proteksyon. Thank you to AP Partylist Rep. Ronnie Ong, who is also my long-time friend, for fighting for this in the House of Representatives. Tinrabaho at isinulong po ito talaga ng AP Partylist hanggang dulo. Hanggang natupad na. Thank you for fighting for ALL children and seeing it all through.”

senator grace poe

Ong added, “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. “

As if blessing the passage of the bill in the upper and lower chambers of Congress, it was approved on the same date of the Feast Day of Our Lady of Candelaria in Jaro Cathedral in Iloilo — coincidentally the same Cathedral where Senator Grace Poe was found and named “Grace” from “grace of God.”

The bill is now transmitted to the President for signing and will lapse into law after 30 days as long as it is not vetoed.

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