Change In PH Adoption Laws To Benefit ‘Yolanda’ Orphans Proposed

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) —   Allan Pineda Lindo was abandoned by his African American father shortly after he was born in Angeles City, Pampanga in the Philippines.

A Perkasie, Pennsylvania-based Pearl S. Buck, Inc. (PSBI) representative managed to find a sponsor, who would adopt him under its dollar-a-day program for Amerasians. And Mr. Lindo  went on to become a popular American rapper and philanthropist, using his initial apl.de.ap.

Filipino American Ernesto Gange, a retired member of the Board of Directors of the PSBI, said there are other American sponsors like lawyer Joe Ben Hudgens who adopted apl.de.ap and who could sponsor hundreds of orphans left behind by the devastation of mega-Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and succeed like apl.de.ap. But the sponsors are up against a huge firewall — very strict and complicated procedure of laws regulating Philippines adoption.

Gange told Atty. Loida Nicolas Lewis and Mario Lopez De Leon, Jr., Consul General of New York and others at a meeting at Harvard Club in New York city that while PSBI is able to adopt children from China, Romania, Vietnam, Korea and South America, “the Philippines has the worst adoption rules in the world.”

Also present at the meeting were Deputy Consul General Zaldy Patron, Consul Kira Azucena, Vice Consul Khrys Corpuz and Ms. Olive Magpile, Cultural Attaché.

“Unless and until the adoption laws of the Philippines are relaxed or amended, the number of malnourished street children in the Philippines  will continue to increase.  The Philippines is now considered to have the most number of street children, next to Brazil and India,”  Gange said.

EXECUTIVE ORDER OR URGENT BILL

He asked the help of Lewis, who was en route to the Philippines, to make representations with the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Bureau of Immigration and President Aquino to issue an executive order that will allow orphaned children of Haiyan/Yolanda to be adopted by American families. If not, President Aquino can certify as urgent a bill for Congress to consider amending the current Philippine adoption laws.

The matter of adoption became the topic of discussion after Consul General De Leon, who just returned from the Philippines, showed photos of abandoned orphans in Leyte and Samar.

In a letter to Janet Mintzer, President of PSBI, Gange said PSBI is in a position to help orphans from Leyte and Samar based of the track record of PSBI-Philippines, which had graduated 42,000 out of 52,000 Filipino Amerasian children through the sponsorship program (not adoption) by American families.

Since 1964, PSBI would identify a US family to donate $30.00 a month to sponsor a child in the Philippines for the child’s health, education, livelihood for the mother or guardian and psychosocial needs.

One proof of the success of sponsorship was apl.de.ap, who went through the program. Apl.de.ap was sponsored by a California lawyer (Hudgens) for the treatment of his rare eye disease (nystagmus) in the U.S. and decided to stay in the U.S. Apl.de.ap speaks Tagalog and Kapampangan aside from English.

PSBI also graduated 16,000 children and thousands of mothers in Leyte through the Child Survival Project from 1996-2002 thru a $1.4-M grant from the U.S. Assistance for International Development (USAID).

Meanwhile, during the meeting at Harvard Club, the group also discussed effort to press for the issuance of a Homeland Security order for a Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for Filipinos living in the U.S. who could not go home because of the devastation of Yolanda/Haiyan. The order will stop the deportation of the undocumented Filipinos and save the U.S. government millions of dollars for deporting these Filipinos, according Marlon L. Pecson of Chicago’s U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance.

The group is hoping that TPS would be issued before President Obama visits the Philippines by late April.

The group also created a welcome committee to President Obama in the Philippines.

Also discussed were the hurdles of dual citizenship law; the anemic participation of Filipino Americans in the Philippine elections as observed by Senate President Franklin Drilon; the Absentee Voting Law, which Consul General De Leon pledged to promote; and the education campaign in the U.S. by the U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance to expose China’s illegal occupation of Philippine territories in Philippine Western Sea (South China Sea).

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