Philippines, Manila: illegal adoptions are on the rise, children are sold for 100 euros apiece

ROME – The unequivocal and tragic signs of poverty are often discovered and represented above all with the lack of food, the difficult access to a healthy and regular diet or the partial or complete absence of health facilities. In the case of the Philippines – as an article by Asian news, signed by Stefano Vecchia – these signals assume hateful, unbearable forms, which violate the basic principles of civilization: that is, the sale of children with few days of life, even for only 100 euros. In other words, the material transfer of their children by very poor families, which originally has two obvious reasons: the one to try to give the newborn little ones a future and the one to still raise an amount that is able to cope. in some time. All this in a country that is burdened by a huge government debt and with 26% of the population living below the poverty line, that is, with less than 1 euro a day and an economy that relies almost exclusively on billions of euros sent home each years of the 5 million Filipino workers working abroad.

It is the laws of the market that make the price. There is therefore a sharp increase in illegal adoptions and a desperate drop in the cost of doing so, at least in terms of the amounts paid to families of origin. A practice that was already prevalent before the pandemic, caused – in fact – by widespread and persistent poverty in at least 1/4 of the population, but also by the lack of access to education and health care, which increases the difficulties for families in the most deprived realities, both urban and non-urban. Meanwhile, the “supply” has grown a lot, while the “demand” of the adopters has instead fallen. According to the ruthless laws of the market, this has lowered prices, with the addition of an important side effect, namely the risk that children in a few days or at most a few weeks of life end up in the hands of criminal networks, which, as we know, they boast different areas of activity: from sexual exploitation, to illegal work, to organ trafficking.

A traffic of about 3,000 children a month. The price of a newborn also dropped to $ 100, in addition to exceptions that take into account origin and appearance: in this truly shameful market, “sanguemisto” are the most valued, and you can also get numbers in the order of $ 1,000. It is a form of “marketing” that made use of direct knowledge and networks known only to a few, networks that are nurtured primarily by unwanted pregnancies of young women who are more or less directly involved in prostitution. With the pandemic, the expansion of needs and the more intensive use of the Internet has stimulated the online development of this and other criminal activities. All in a context that in 2019 alone had recorded an average of 3,000 reports a month from abroad on Filipino children involved in sexual exploitation via the Internet.

A crime punishable by life imprisonment. Adoption outside the official channels is of course illegal and punishable by life imprisonment and high fines, but the difficulty in identifying those responsible is also the result of the lack of specific investigative bodies to support the action of many social engagement organizations. The International Operations Bureau of the National Investigation Bureau identified and followed up only about ten cases of “commercial adoption” in 2021.

Two million children live without a family. It is estimated that in the Philippines – according to estimates by international NGOs operating in the country – almost two million minors live without a family, with a high risk of exploitation. On the other hand, the judicial system can only guarantee a few thousand adoptions. Again, the lack of resources and staff is the biggest constraint along with the reduced demand. To try to reduce the area of ​​illegality Act on Domestic Administrative Adoption – the law on adoptions proposed by senators Risa Hontiveros and Pia Cayetano and has been in force since January – allows for shorter periods, from six to nine months, and more streamlined procedures for adoption under the leadership of The National Child Care Authority.

Some statistics (and not) about the Philippines.

– Population: 107.66 million
. Adult education: men 95%, women 95.8%
– Access to water sources: in the city 92.5%, in the countryside 91.2%
Life expectancy: men 69 years, women 75 years
– Religion: Catholicism 83%, Islam 5%, Protestantism 9.6%
– Infant mortality: 1.76% (before 1 year of age)
– Population below the poverty line: 26.8%

– The nation of the Philippines consists of over 7,100 islands, but most of the population lives on only 11 of them
– 20% of children are underweight and 30% suffer from stunted growth, an often irreversible condition due to malnutrition in early childhood
– Communist insurgents and Islamist guerrillas operate in the southern Philippines with sustained episodes of violence despite attempts at peace talks
– On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan hit the country. With winds of up to 270 kilometers per hour, it destroyed over 570,000 homes. According to the BBC, over 6,000 people lost their lives

The Philippines is recovering from a history of political corruption, social unrest and a series of natural disasters that have caused poverty and unemployment. Child mortality is very high in rural areas and the income gap between rich and poor is increasing.

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