HRRC Participates in Roundtable Discussion on Alternative Family Care Systems

Quezon City, Philippines, 25 May 2016—The Human Rights Resource Centre attended the Roundtable Discussion on Children’s Human Rights:  Comparative Study of Laws of Select Asian and the Pacific States on Alternative Family Care Systems, which was hosted by the Institute of Human Rights, University of the Philippines Law Center.  The event aimed to identify best practices in alternative family care systems, including the Kafala system in Islamic countries, and to develop a policy framework for the recognition of the best alternative care system for orphaned Muslim children, consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The roundtable brought together key persons with expertise on child’s rights, child placement programs, and Shariah law, including scholars in Islamic studies and experts from the Philippines, Iran and Turkey, members of the Inter-Country Adoption Board, and social workers from the government and private sectors.  The discussion was opened by Prof. E. Battad of the Institute of Human Rights, with Judge Jose Lorenzo R. De la Rosa providing the Keynote Address.

The distinguished speakers for the event were Hon. Parisya Hashim-Taradji, former DSWD Undersecretary and Executive Director of Magbasa Kita Foundation, Inc., on alternative child care and placement programs in the Philippines; Prof. Gabriela Roldan-Concepcion, U.P. College of Law, on Philippine Adoption Laws; Prof. Solomon Lumba, U.P. College of Law, on the Rule on Guardianship for Minors; Hon. Mehol K. Sadain, former Dean of the U.P. Institute of Islamic Studies, on Alternative Child Care Systems under the Shariah Law; Exec. Director Ustadz Esmael Ebrahim, Former Commissioner of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, on Fostering under the Kafala System (Sunni);  Prof. Hossein Fayaz, retired Cultural Affairs Consultant of the Embassy of Iran, on Fostering under the Shariah-Shiite System; and Dr. Abdulhamit Durakoglu, Consultant for International Core for Assistance and Development Foundation, on the Perspective on Adoption and Fostering in Turkey.

Speakers on Shariah Law imparted that the adoption of Muslim children is not recognized under Islam, a prohibition expressed in P.D. 1083, the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines.  The Kafala system, recognized under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, offers an alternative child care system under Shariah law that provides for the best interest of orphaned or abandoned Muslim children.  Through Kafala, the kafil (married couple or adult) gains custody over and commits to provide for the needs of a makful (abandoned child), but the child retains the surname of his biological family and does not have inheritance rights.

The morning and afternoon sessions were followed by spirited discussions between the speakers and participants, moderated by Atty. Eric Mallonga and Atty. Salma Pir Rasul, on the current state of practice of child placement programs in the Philippines, the possibilities for foster care under the Kafala system, and the need to propose legislation and programs to address the gaps that exists in the system at present.  At the conclusion of the session, the participants agreed to form a core group to work together in formulating a policy framework to pursue the formal integration of alternative family care systems, such as Kafala, in the Philippines.