More on rectification of simulated births

As we first discussed it back in October last year, simulation of birth — the act of altering the birth certificate typically of a new-born child to make it appear that the child is a child of somebody else — is quite rampant. Although technically a crime, since it is prohibited by Article 347 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, many childless couples resort to it so that they could have a child who they could raise like their own.

Often doctors, nurses, midwives and the hospital or birthing clinic itself cooperate in the simulation because the intention behind the act is good, even noble — to give joy to the childless couple, while assuring a good future for the child. The fact that in birth simulation the child losses her real identity is given scant consideration, if at all. And this is especially if the mother herself does not want to rear the child for reasons like, if the child is the product of rape, or if the mother has been abandoned.

To give those who committed birth simulation some measure of relief — given the reasons that motivated them to do it — government in February 2019 approved a law titled “An Act Allowing the Rectification of Simulated Birth Records and Prescribing Administrative Adoption Proceedings for the Purpose.” This was Republic Act 11222, which became effective in March 2019. The law basically exempts from any criminal, civil or administrative liability those involved in one way or another in the simulation, provided certain requirements are met.

These requirements are: (a) The simulation was done for the best interest of the child; (b) the child has been consistently treated as a real child; (c) the petition for adoption with an application for rectification of the simulated birth record is filed within 10 years from the time the law became effective; (d) the child has lived with the adopter for at least three years prior to the filing of the petition; (e) the children, 10 years up, of the adopter consent to the adoption; and (f) the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) issues a certificate that the child is legally available for adoption.

DSWD, acting on its authority under Section 23 of the law, issued rules and regulations to ensure that proceedings are smooth. These came in the form of Memorandum Circular 16, Series of 2020, which made it clear that the petition for rectification shall be in the form of an affidavit which states the circumstances behind the simulation of the child’s birth record. The petition shall also cite the petitioner’s qualifications (identified in Section 8 of the law) to adopt the child and the grounds that would warrant the grant of the administrative adoption by the DSWD Secretary.

Other legal requirements include that the petition to rectify a simulated birth record shall be filed with the Social Welfare Development Office in the city or municipality where the child resides.

Attendance by the petitioner to the pre-adoption seminar to understand in-depth what the adoption is all about and its legal implications. The law is silent whether the real mother shall also attend the seminar, given that the rectification also has legal implications for her, such as the permanent loss of parental authority over the child.

All documents and records used in relation to the rectification shall be treated as strictly confidential, and they cannot be used as evidence against any of those involved in any proceeding. This is a wise prescription from the law and its rules since it encourages all those who participated in the birth simulation to come forward unafraid and disclose what they did. The coming forward has long been a need of those involved in birth simulation, and it is to the credit of our government that it finally provided a means and opportunity for them to do just that.

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