P50K for baby: DSWD bares sale of kids online

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
P50K for baby: DSWD bares sale of kids online
Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian and National Authority for Child Care executive director Janella Estrada hold a press conference at the DSWD office in Quezon City yesterday regarding the illegal sale of an eight-day-old baby, leading to the apprehension of two suspects, including the baby’s mother.
Miguel De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Facebook pages peddling Filipino children in the guise of adoption have been monitored by the Department of Social Welfare and Development-National Authority on Child Care (DSWD-NACC).

Authorities found 20 to 30 Facebook accounts that buy and sell children, NACC executive director and DSWD Undersecretary Janella Estrada said yesterday at a press briefing.

“We have been monitoring the sale since last year and in February, we coordinated with the Philippine National Police to apprehend the people involved in these pages,” she said.

There is rampant sale of babies on social media, particularly on Facebook, with some being sold by their own parents, said Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchalian.

Any form of adoption “outside the national care guidelines is a form of human trafficking and child laundering and a crime,” he warned.

“This is a cruel form of child exploitation and, at the same time, a cruel form of human trafficking... It is ongoing and a bothersome concern that the public must know,” he said.

Gatchalian cited the case of an eight-day-old child rescued by the Philippine National Police-Women and Children Protection Center.

Police arrested the child’s mother, Ma. Chariza Rivera Dizon, 29, of Tondo, Manila, who tried to sell the baby, and Arjay Malabanan, 37, of Bacoor, Cavite, who served as an agent.

Dizon attempted to sell the child for P50,000 while Malabanan demanded P90,000.

The child has been placed under the care of the Augustinian Sisters of Mother Teresa Spinelli in Tagaytay City.

Gatchalian encouraged those who want to adopt children to resort to legal means, saying the new NACC law makes it “easier to adopt.”

Adoption is free of charge if done through NACC, he noted.

Food credits

For the effective impact assessment of their Walang Gutom 2027 program, the DSWD is again partnering with Globe Telecom and G-Xchange Inc., operator of the mobile electronic wallet GCash.

The program aims to provide food credits to one million food-poor Filipino families over a three-year period starting this year.

Gatchalian recalled that Globe and GCash provided technology assistance in the impact assessment of the program’s pilot implementation last year.

The partnership would allow the DSWD to assess the program’s impact on the first batch of 300,000 beneficiaries this year and the two succeeding years thereafter, he noted.

“We know that this program is a winner. But the downside is: we won’t be able to again allocate funds to data-track. And what is there to celebrate if we can’t data-track,” Gatchalian said yesterday during the agreement signing with Globe president Ernest Cu and G-Xchange president Ren-Ren Reyes.

“This collaboration significantly amplifies our capacity to better serve society. It stands as a testament to the transformative power of technology in driving social change. Such partnerships are pivotal in bolstering government efforts to provide enhanced social services in our increasingly digital world,” he added. — Rainier Allan Ronda

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