EDITORIAL - Babies for sale

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - Babies for sale

Cyberspace has been a boon for commerce. You can buy practically everything online, including, unfortunately, a wide range of prohibited items and services. You don’t even have to access the dark web for buying and selling prohibited stuff, such as babies.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development spotted the online baby market right there on Facebook, after a mother tried to sell her eight-day-old baby through a middleman using an FB account. The woman and the middleman, who tried to sell the baby for P50,000 to P90,000, were arrested by police on May 15 in Dasmariñas, Cavite.

About 20 to 40 Facebook accounts are reportedly being monitored by the DSWD’s attached agency the National Authority for Child Care in connection with the sale of babies in the guise of offering them for adoption. DSWD and NACC officials said they are still waiting for Facebook to act on their request to take down the accounts.

The country has several laws against human trafficking, with penalties ranging from 12 years to life in prison and fines of P1 million to P5 million for violators. There are also laws against the online sexual abuse or exploitation of children. But there is no specific law against the online sale of babies. Child welfare advocates have noted that many of those caught engaging in OSAEC are parents or guardians themselves of the victims. The same problem makes it difficult to foil the online sale of babies by the mother or both parents in the guise of offering the children for adoption.

Adopting children is allowed in the Philippines, under the supervision of the DSWD. Wider dissemination of information on the requirements and processes for adoption can help deter the illegal sale of babies and older children. The government can facilitate the legitimate process of adoption, providing the necessary vetting to ensure that the children will not end up being trafficked for sex, forced labor and other forms of abuses.

There are children who really need to be adopted. The government must help ensure that such children end up in safe and loving foster homes. At the same time, the government can assist mothers or parents who are forced by circumstances to sell their children. It is generally wrenching for a mother to give up a child. While the mission is challenging, the goal must be to keep mother and child together.

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