MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a bill that simplifies the adoption process and grants amnesty to those who tampered records to make it appear an adopted child was born to a person who is not the biological mother.

The President signed the Republic Act 11222 or the Simulated Birth Rectification Act on February 21. A copy of the law was released by Malacañang on Thursday.

The new law shall “grant amnesty and allow the rectification of the simulated birth of a child where simulation was made for the best interest of the child, and that such child has been consistently considered and treated by the person” who considered the child as his or her own.

It also aims to fix the status and filiation of a child whose birth was simulated by giving such child all the benefits of adoption and ensuring that such child shall be entitled to all the rights provided by law to legally adopted children, “without discrimination of any kind, as well as to love, guidance, and support from the child’s adoptive family”.

For couples where one of the adopters is a foreigner married to a Filipino, the foreigner must have been residing in the Philippines for at least three years before the filing of the petition for adoption.

Instead of going through court proceedings, those who seek to adopt a child may file a petition with the social welfare and development officer of the city or town where the child lives. The social welfare secretary shall decide on the petition within 30 days from receipt of the recommendation of the agency's regional director.

Once the requirements are satisfied, the adopted child would be considered a legitimate son or daughter and will be entitled to all rights and obligations provided by law.

In a Department of Social Welfare and Development data, about 6,500 children have been declared available for adoption -- almost 4,000 of them are under the care of both state and non-state run residential care facilities. (PNA)