By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz

CLOSED-DOOR MEETING. Police Col. Renato Mercado, chief of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division under the Women and Children Protection Center of the Philippine National Police (from left to right), National Authority for Child Care Executive Director Janella Ejercito Estrada, and Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center Executive Director Alexander Ramos during a closed-door meeting on the crackdown against the online black market sale of babies on Monday (June 3, 2024). Ramos said a technical working group between these three agencies will crack down against groups on Facebook and other social media platforms that allow the sale of babies and surrogacy services. (Photo courtesy of CICC)

MANILA – Three law enforcement agencies are setting up a technical working group (TWG) to crack down on the black-market sale of babies online.

In a statement on Wednesday, Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) Executive Director Alexander Ramos said babies are being sold through Facebook groups for as low as PHP30,000 up to PHP2 million based on data from the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“Illegal adoption of babies is not new but it has been going on for years. But the black-market trade is now getting more sophisticated with the use of social media,” Ramos said.

The CICC, the National Authority for Child Care (NACC), and the Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC) of the PNP have teamed up to identify parents, brokers, and others involved in the illegal adoption practice.

The partnership was made during a closed-door meeting between Ramos, NACC Executive Director Janella Ejercito Estrada, and Police Col. Renato Mercado, chief of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division under the WCPC on Monday.

During the event, Mercado said four new active Facebook groups involved in the black-market sale of babies have been identified in addition to two groups identified by the CICC on the same social media platform.

“Mothers would say that they were giving up their babies because they cannot afford to support them. Poverty is indeed the driving force behind the online sale of babies,” he said.

Estrada said these black markets are also beginning to offer surrogacies, or the process in which a woman carries and delivers a child for a couple or individual.

She appealed to those interested in the adoption of children that they should deal directly with the NACC instead of resorting to illegal adoption. (PNA)