As part of the government’s efforts to improve the welfare and protection of Filipino children, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) led the ceremonial signing of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) No. 11222 or the “Simulated Birth Rectification Act” and Republic Act No. 11037 or the “Masustansyang Pagkain Para sa Batang Pilipino Act” on October 7, 2019 at the DSWD Central Office in Quezon City.
Other national government agencies (NGAs) and non-government organizations (NGOs) which took part in the crafting of the IRRs also signed the documents. These are Department of Education (DepEd), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Justice (DOJ), Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), Association of Child Caring Agencies of the Philippines (ACCAP), Child Rights Network (CRN), and Philippine Association of Civil Registrars (PACR).
The activity was also attended by Senator Grace Poe and La Union 2nd District Representative Sandra Eriguel who both delivered messages on behalf of the legislative branch of the government.
On February 21, 2019, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed RA No. 11222 which stipulates that a person who committed birth simulation will be given amnesty if proven that the act was made “for the best interest of the child, and that such child has been consistently considered and treated by the person or persons who simulated such birth as her, his, or their own daughter or son.”
This will encourage those who, in the best interest of a child, resorted to simulation of birth, to come out without threat of prosecution and to provide a process by which they may not only rectify the simulated birth record but also legalize the existing parent-child relationship between them.
This is only applicable to cases of birth simulation committed on or before March 28, 2019 which means that even an adult with a simulated birth certificate could avail of the administrative adoption.
The Petition for Administrative Adoption with Application for Rectification of Simulated Birth Record could be filed until March 29, 2029 because the law provides for a ten-year period of implementation only from the date of effectivity, which is March 29, 2019.
Another important provision of the IRR is the issuance of the Order of Adoption by the DSWD Secretary which includes the following: Cancellation of the simulated birth record of the child; late registration of the rectified birth record, which is a birth or foundling certificate, bearing the true facts of birth or finding of the child as the case may be; and the new birth certificate.
Healthy Filipino children
Another law related to improving the well-being of children is the “Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act,” which was signed by the President on June 20, 2018.
The law supports the Philippine Plan of Action for Children (PPAC) which aims to reduce stunting and wasting among preschool and school-aged children, as well as to reduce micronutrient deficiencies to levels below public health significance through the implementation of nutrition specific and nutrition-sensitive programs.
A salient point of the IRR is the institutionalization of the existing government feeding programs plus the provision of one fortified hot meal per day, fresh milk, and micronutrient supplementation to all beneficiaries of the DSWD’s Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP) and the DepEd’s school-based feeding program for not less than 120 days in a year.
The IRR also mandates the establishment of a National Nutrition Information System (NNIS), a database that will monitor program-beneficiaries and harmonize all existing national and local nutrition databases from concerned NGAs and other relevant agencies of government in order to identify individuals, groups, or localities with the highest magnitude of hunger and undernutrition. It will be managed by the National Nutrition Council (NNC) and will be used to monitor the health and nutrition of all Filipino children, especially the beneficiaries of SFP.
Concerned local government units (LGUs), in coordination with NGAs, are also required to conduct health examinations, deworming, vaccination of beneficiaries, and establishment of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) facilities.
In addition, NGAs, in coordination with the Department of Agriculture (DA), will also encourage their component units to allot a portion of land or space for the cultivation of vegetables and other nutrient-rich plants and shall employ modern gardening technologies under the Gulayan sa Paaralan.
The IRR also includes the institutionalization of the Integrated Nutrition Education, Behavioral Transformation and Social Mobilization (INEBTSM) program. This features public health, nutrition, and values transformation campaign which promotes holistic and integrated approach to health and nutrition education.
DSWD, as part of the executive branch of the government, will ensure that the implementation of laws for children will be responsive to their holistic needs. -30-