DSWD Calls on Facebook to Take Down Illegal Adoption Pages

In the Philippines, the sale of babies or children is illegal under Republic Act 9208 (as amended by R.A. 10346 and further amended by R.A. 11862), a.k.a. the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2023. Those who are found guilty could face up to 12 years in prison, and a fine of PHP 1 million up to PHP 5 million.

Indeed, the buying and selling of babies is a serious crime. After the recent arrest of a mother who tried to sell her 8-day old baby through a middle man online, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has reiterated its call for Facebook to take down pages that are engaged in the illegal selling of babies.

DSWD Calls on Facebook to Take Down Illegal Adoption Pages
Image Credit: Department of Social Welfare and Development / Facebook

Facebook Asked to Take Down Illegal Adoption Pages

According to the Philippine News Agency, an entrapment operation was carried out by the PNP Women and Child Protection Center (WCPC) at the Immaculate Conception Church in Dasmariñas City, Cavite on May 15, 2024.

During the operation, arrested were: Ma. Chariza Dizon, 29, single, a resident of Tondo, Manila, and mother of the 8-day-old rescued male infant; and Arjay Malabanan, 37, married, and an employee of the Dasmariñas City local government unit.

Apparently, Dizon had asked Malabanan to sell her child for PHP 50,000 to PHP 90,000. Both suspects have been charged for violating R.A. 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

After the incident, the DSWD expects the illegal selling of babies on social media to stop. DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian stated that the National Authority for Child Care (NACC) and the PNP are tracking other groups engaged in the online selling of babies.

Warning Against Baby-Selling Syndicates

“Let this be a stern warning against baby-selling syndicates that we will go after you and we will prosecute all arrested suspects until they are convicted and meted prison sentence,” Sec. Gatchalian declared during a press conference at the DSWD Central Office in Quezon City on Monday, May 20.

The Secretary said that DSWD and NACC will collaborate with social media providers like Facebook to monitor accounts that are being used for the buying and selling of babies.

“We also need a massive information campaign on the NACC law, which provided a simplified process of adoption,” Sec. Gatchalian stated.

20-40 FB Pages Involved in Baby-Selling

At the press conference, Sec. Gatchalian was joined by NACC executive director Undersecretary Janella Ejercito Estrada and Col. Renato Mercado of the PNP-WCPC, GMA Network reported.

Estrada said that those who want to adopt can do so legally and for free — provided that they complete the necessary documents and screening at NACC offices. Moreover, she shared that the NACC has been monitoring the illegal adoption of babies since last year, and has found 20-40 Facebook pages involved in the trade.

“These FB pages are private accounts with thousands of followers,” she explained. “These social media sites are selling babies online in the guise of adoption and since February, we have been coordinating with the PNP to put a stop to this illegal activity.”

More Action from Facebook Needed

Meanwhile, the DSWD has stated that Facebook’s “inaction” to take down the pages may be due to the “absence of a law” that prohibits the online selling of babies.

Notably, Meta, the company that owns Facebook, describes human trafficking as “the exploitation of humans in order to force them to engage in commercial sex, labor, or other activities against their will.” It also cites illegal adoption, sale of children, and orphanage trafficking as among the different forms of human trafficking.

Examples of Illegal Adoption Pages

A quick Facebook search on the terms “ampunan” shows a list of pages and groups, many of which are involved in illegal adoption.

As of this writing, here are some examples of pages that are engaged in the buying and selling of babies:

Please take time to report these pages on Facebook, since these promote an illegal activity!

Final Thoughts

For those who want to adopt children, please take note that there is a proper, legal way to do so — by going to the DSWD or organizations that are accredited to implement the adoption process.

To know more about how to adopt a child in the Philippines, check out this article about the DSWD Adoption Program.