By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Various government agencies have committed to strengthen and fast track the process of legal adoption in the Philippines for the “best interest of the children.”
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Department of Justice (DOJ) had forged a memorandum of agreement recently as part of the Adoption Consciousness Celebration.
“This celebration aims to intensify the advocacy for the practice of correct and legal adoption of abandoned, surrendered, or neglected children. We recognize the efforts and important roles of our partners who are engaged in this advocacy,” DSWD Undersecretary for Special Concerns Virginia Orogo said.
Orogo, who also serves as chairperson of the Intercountry Adoption Board (ICAB) Alternate said the renewed partnership of DSWD with DILG, DepEd, and DOH will beef up the legal adoption advocacy, saying that the inclusion of the DOJ will help expedite adoption cases filed in family courts.
“We are ready and open to cooperate, and to make the necessary adjustments and rules in order to fast track adoption cases,” Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said.
The new agreement aims to ensure that all local government units (LGUs), health and medical workers, students and teachers, and family court staff especially those who are handling adoption cases are aware of the significance of legal adoption.
Under the agreement, the DILG is designated to hold seminars on alternative parental care programs from their field offices, cities/municipalities, and the barangay level. They are also assigned to supervise LGUs to ensure that all surrendered, neglected, or abandoned children will be assessed and declared legally available for adoption by the DSWD before the issuance of the placement for adoption.
The DOH, on its part, is assigned to conduct orientation on alternative parental care programs to staff of hospitals and birthing facilities to raise their awareness on how to handle cases of children left in birthing facilities.
It is also the task of the DOH to ensure that all health and medical facilities have trained and capable staff who are able to handle and provide services for children and parents at risk of abandoning or surrendering their children for adoption in order to prevent birth simulation.
Meanwhile, DepEd will include adoption and other forms of alternative family care and child placement as a subject matter in school curriculums and conduct adoption awareness activities in schools such as the upcoming poster-making contest for Grades 7 to 9 students, which will be held in the middle of the year.
The DOJ is expected to help prioritize and expedite adoption cases in family courts through the Office of the Solicitor General and to provide legal services to families who wish to pursue legal adoption through the Public Attorney’s Office.
During the signing, DepEd Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali, DILG-National Barangay Operations Office Director Leocadio Trovela, DSWD-Protective Services Bureau Director Ma. Alicia Bonoan, and DSWD-MIMAROPA Regional Director Wilma Naviamos were also present.
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