By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

MOTHER’S LOVE. Three mothers sunbathe their babies early morning at the sidewalk along Barangay Old Capitol Site in Philcoa, Quezon City on March 8, 2023. The National Authority for Child Care on Wednesday (May 22, 2024) said it is monitoring 23 Facebook pages selling Filipino children online in the guise of adoption, with some sellers in these pages are the children’s mothers themselves.  (PNA photo by Ben Briones) 

MANILA – The National Authority for Child Care (NACC) is monitoring 23 Facebook pages selling Filipino children online in the guise of adoption.

In a Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon briefing on Wednesday, NACC executive director Janella Estrada said the Facebook pages have been reported to the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“The PNP is currently working on leads and follow-ups. We sent a letter to Facebook Meta Philippines but we haven’t received a reply and (Department of Social Welfare and Development) Secretary Rex Gatchalian committed to help in writing a letter to Meta Philippines,” she said.

Estrada said these Facebook pages have thousands of followers where children are being sold at PHP10,000 to PHP100,000 each.

“Diyan sila nag-uusap ng mga nag-aalok ng baby, actually, kahit nasa tiyan pa lamang po ng mga biological mothers, naghahanap na po sila ng mga ahente at brokers para ampunin po ang kanilang mga anak (Those offering babies, they do their transactions on these pages. Actually, they’re already looking for agents and brokers for adoption while the babies are still in their biological mothers’ wombs),” she added.

Earlier, the PNP-Women and Children Protection Center rescued an eight-day-old child.

The child’s 29-year-old mother Ma. Chariza Rivera Dizon was arrested by the police for trying to sell the baby. Arjay Malabanan, 37, was also arrested by the police for serving as an agent.

Dizon wanted to sell the child for PHP50,000 while Malabanan added PHP40,000 for helping to sell the child.

Apart from coordinating with the PNP, Estrada said the NACC partners with different local government units to strengthen Philippine Foster Care Program.

Under Republic Act 11642, adoptions conducted outside the national care guidelines are considered a form of human trafficking and a crime.

Estrada said the penalty for Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act is 20 years to life imprisonment and fine of PHP1 million to PHP5 million.

The penalty for qualified trafficking is life imprisonment and a fine of PHP2 million to PHP5 million.

Article IV, Section 7 of Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, states that child trafficking carries a penalty of reclusion temporal (12 years imprisonment) to reclusion perpetua (up to 40 years imprisonment). (PNA)