Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed alarm over the rampant buying and selling of newborn babies across underground black markets in the country which endangers babies’ safety and makes them susceptible to exploitation and abuse.
De Lima filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 224 urging the appropriate Senate committee to investigate the underground “babies-for-sale” trade that are being done both through online and offline transactions.
“Despite the efforts of both the government and non-governmental organizations to address the illegal baby-for-sale trade, significant solutions remain to be elusive,” she said.
“Poverty remains to be one of the main drivers in the prevalence of such atrocious illegal activity, and the continued proliferation of appalling activities relating to the exploitation, trafficking and abuse of babies,” she added.
Based on news reports, a considerable number of new-born babies are being sold both online and offline, for as little as PhP300 only across Southeast Asia, including the Philippines.
In the Philippines, in particular, where social media platforms are easily and widely accessed by ordinary citizens, reports revealed that babies are sold through online channels such as Instagram and Facebook.
Meanwhile, offline transactions reportedly occur outside public hospitals and in slum communities where, according to women in slum neighborhoods, 6 out of 10 women have either sold or know someone who has sold a baby.
Last Sept. 4, an American citizen named Jennifer Talbot was arrested at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport after she attempted to smuggle a six-day-old baby out of the country. Local authorities later filed human trafficking charges against her for illegally purchasing the baby from a Filipina teen mom.
De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, noted that the alarming incidents relating to the illicit baby-for-sale trade calls for comprehensive review of the implementation of adoption and anti-trafficking laws for possible amendments.
“Assessments from experts point out that one of the problem areas that exacerbate the baby-for-sale trade is the adoption system in the Philippines. The current system is described to be tedious, multilayered, and highly bureaucratic, and even takes years to process,” she noted.
According to the Senator, while the National Bureau of Investigation is aware of the problems on babies-for-sale trade, the agency admitted that it “is hardly making a dent” on the matter.
In filing the Resolution, De Lima said the government should urgently address the issue because it may lead to further crimes, such as illicit human organ trade, sex trafficking, child pornography and other abuses against children.
“The State must ensure that in mobilizing government agencies in the creation of a peaceful environment that is free from crime and drugs, equal effort is exerted in protecting children and generations yet to come from predators that are operating in circumvention of and in violation of existing domestic and international laws,” she said.
Recently, De Lima has also filed Senate Resolution 169 asking the appropriate Senate committee to look into the sharp rise in teenage pregnancies in the country which often deprives adolescents of a chance to have a better future. (30)