Sep 28, 2020

CORRECTING A CHILD’S IDENTITY: A Pain No More

Did we do the right thing, attorney? Or did we violate any law with our decision to register the baby as our own child given the circumstances? 

Dear Pay Louie,

Eight years ago, an unknown young woman left a newborn baby girl at our doorsteps. Out of pity for the baby, I and my husband took immediate care of her while hoping that her mother would eventually change her mind and come back for the child. However, months have passed and no sign of the mother could be found. It was then that we decided to have the child registered at the Local Civil Registrar with us indicated as the parents and to bear our family name. We considered the child as a blessing from heaven and from thereon we treated her as our own child, without telling her the circumstances of her birth because we believed that she does not deserve the pain of being confronted with such fact.

Did we do the right thing, attorney? Or did we violate any law with our decision to register the baby as our own child given the circumstances?  –  Therese

Dear Therese,

I have to qualify my answer to your first question.

Yes, you did the right thing when you took immediate care of the baby when she was left by her unknown mother at your doorsteps. It was, in fact, your moral obligation to do so. However, it was another matter when you registered the baby with the Local Civil Registrar and made it appear that you were the biological parents.

The latter act is tantamount to Simulation of Birth which is punishable under the Revised Penal Code and RA 8552, otherwise known as the “Domestic Adoption Act of 1998”.

Sec. 3 (j) of RA 8552 defines Simulation of birth” as the tampering of the civil registry making it appear in the birth records that a certain child was born to a person who is not his/her biological mother, causing such child to lose his/her true identity and status.

Simulation of Birth is punishable by prision mayor in its medium period (six years and one day to eight years of imprisonment) and a fine not exceeding P50,000.

DO NOT FRET, HOWEVER, because Republic Act No. 11222, otherwise known as the “Simulated Birth Rectification Act”, was signed into law on February 21, 2019, and is now in effect.

The Simulated Birth Rectification Act grants criminal, civil and administrative amnesty to persons, including those who participated with them, who simulated the birth certificate of their adopted children making it appear that they are their biological parents, provided that said “simulation 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; and, provided further that such person or persons has or have filed a petition for adoption with an application for the rectification on or before March 29, 2029.

The Simulated Birth Rectification Act also provides for and allows a simpler and lesser costly administrative adoption proceeding where the child has been living with the person or persons who simulated here or his birth record for at least three (3) years before the effectivity of this Act.

With this legislation in effect, prospective adopting parents with the same circumstances as yours need not fear criminal, civil and/or administrative prosecution for simulation of birth as yet, provided that they file the proper petition within the prescribed period. Section 6, Article II, or RA 11222 guarantees that “All petitions, documents, records, and papers relating to adoption and rectification of simulated births under this Act cannot be used as evidence against those who simulated the birth of a child or who cooperated in the execution of such simulation in any criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding.”

– Pay Louie

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DISCLAIMER: The information provided herein is intended for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on the subject matter. Readers are strongly advised to seek appropriate legal or other professional advice on their particular facts and circumstances.

(The writer is an entrepreneur, aspiring cook, musician, and a lawyer who is currently engaged in limited law practice while acting as Director for legal affairs of and Executive Assistant to a local State University)

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