Grace weeps, tells adoptees: You are your parents’ children

By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – Senator Grace Poe broke into tears in a speech that called on government to protect abandoned children and uphold their rights, drawing from her own story as a foundling and adopted child.

In a speech at the 13th Philippine Global Consultation on Child Welfare Services on Wednesday, Poe turned emotional as she spoke about her parents’ love and how that inspired her to be an advocate of child adoption.

“My advocacy of adoption is therefore a homage to them, and my love letter,” she said of her adoptive parents, stopping briefly to hold back her tears, “returning a love that cannot even begin to equal the love that they had poured on this foundling from the start, which left no doubt in my mind that I was unquestionably, unconditionally, and truly their daughter.”

Poe was found abandoned as an infant at a church in Iloilo City in September 1968, and would later be adopted by prominent movie stars Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces. Her biological parents remain unknown.

Poe was in tears when she gave a message to adopted children.

“You are your parents’ children, and there are many ways by which you can show your parents that indeed they made the right choice, and that your life is not just for yourself but for the many others that you can help in society,” she said.

Poe cited her experience as an adopted child in pushing for the streamlining of the process of birth registration for vulnerable children, including foundlings. She has filed a bill mandating groups or individuals who found an abandoned child to register the child’s birth immediately.

Poe said having a birth certificate is a “fundamental right of every child, and the act of registration is both a conferment and a safeguard of the child’s right to a name and nationality.”

She recalled that while in school, she often felt discriminated against because she could not present a birth certificate and all she had was an adoption paper.

“The adoption certificate became my birth certificate, and even then there was much discrimination about it,” she said. “So early on, even if I didn’t feel any less as a child of my parents, society sometimes made me feel so.”

Years later, as she ponders running for a higher position in the 2016 elections, Poe would face questions over her citizenship precisely because of her being a foundling.

A case at the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) that seeks to unseat her as senator says she is not a natural-born Filipino–and is therefore not qualified to hold public office–because it is uncertain if her biological parents are Filipinos.

Poe has asked the SET to drop the case for lack of substance. In her reply to the disqualification case, she argued that foundlings are not stateless, citing international law and the intent of the framers of the 1935 Constitution, which was in effect when she was born.

The reply also states the burden of proving she is not a natural-born Filipino falls on her accusers.

“Maraming mga bata na hindi natin matukoy kung sino ang mga magulang nila. Ang ibig sabihin ba no’n ay wala silang bansa kahit dito sila natagpuan sa ating bansa? (Many children have unknown parents. Does it mean they are not citizens of this country even if they were found here?)” she told reporters.

“Kung isusuko ko ito, marahil magkakaroon pa ng mas maraming pagkakataong hindi manilbihan ang isang bata sa gobyerno o kaya sa pribadong pagkakataon (If I give up on this, there will be more instances when children would not be given a chance to serve in government or the private sector).”

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  • Neleb
    16 September 2015 at 9:17 am - Reply

    Drama lang yong iyak niya para kaawaan dahil sa ambisyon niyang tumakbo pagka-presidente. Ya right…iyak pagong yon.