7.5 million Filipinos don’t have birth certificates

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By Rose de la Cruz

 

It is quite disturbing that 7.5 million Filipinos do not have birth certificates, about half of them children.

 

There are several implications to this: One, more children are being born in houses by midwives—many of them non-professionals who have honed their skills at administering birth through practice and quite a number of them are not aware that they have to register such births or are too lazy to do so.

 

Two, the public healthcare system has reached its point of breakdown with more indigent patients not able to get proper medical attention in hospitals and health centers, which are legally- mandated and trained to register their births with their local government units.

 

Three, a lot of these births are from teenage pregnancies because of the loose social and sexual orientations as a result of exposure to the internet and mass media (particularly television and cinemas).

 

Four, many of these teenage pregnancies are unwanted and unwelcomed, therefore they are administered in illegal channels (at homes or wherever) to prevent questioning and the prying eyes of people.

 

Fifth, there has been complacence among local governments to promote the practice of registering births and live births and the cost of such certificates.

 

Rep. Lawrence Fortun, 1st district, Agusan del Norte, authored House Bill 104, to provide a comprehensive civil registration system to ensure an identity for all Filipinos.

 

In his privilege speech, Fortun said:  'Buti pa aso't sasakyan, nairerehistro agad, Maraming Pinoy, ni walang birth certificate.”

 

In view of this reality, his bill provides even delayed but free registration of birth at the local government level.

 

"Child rights advocates have identified that 7.5 million Filipinos do not have birth certificates, that supposedly fundamental and indispensable document that establishes our identity, our nationality and citizenship. Of the 7.5 million Filipinos unregistered, about half of that are children," said Fortun, author of House Bill 104.

 

Fortun and other Members of Congress spoke in plenary session to push for more aggressive implementation of programs to advance the rights of children. November is National Children's Month. The country is also marking the 30th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

 

"Nakasaad sa UNCRC na karapatan ng isang bata na mairehistro pagkapanganak, at karapatan din niya, mula sa pagkapanganak, na magkaroon ng pangalan at nasyonalidad," Fortun said.

 

Lamenting the injustice affecting these millions of Filipinos, Fortun also said, "sadyang nakalulungkot na habang ang mga sasakyan ay rehistrado sa Land Transportation Office, may plaka at kumpletong dokumento tulad ng OR at CR, milyon milyon po sa ating mga kababayan, ilang milyon sa kanila ay mga inosenteng kabataan, ay hindi rehistrado sa Civil Registrar’s Office, walang dokumento sa Philippine Statistics Authority, kaya walang kaukulang pagkakakilanlan."

 

"Ika nga ng isang kaibigan ko, mabuti pa yong aso, may papeles at rehistrado sa PCCI (Philippine Canine Club Inc.)," Fortun said.

 

Fortun recalled an occasion when he did pro-bono outreach work as a lawyer.

 

"Noong ako po ay nag-aabogado pa, naging bahagi ng adbokasiya namin ng iilan kong mga kasamahan sa proposeyon ang tumulong sa mga mga magulang sa malalayong komunidad upang makakamit ng birth certificates ang kanilang mga anak," he said.

 

"Baon ang aming mga selyong pangnotaryo at typewriters, doon na rin namin ginagawa ang mga affidavit para sa kanilang late registration at doon na rin namin ninonotaryo ang mga ito. Kami po ay nagulat at nalungkot na marami sa kanila, hindi lang mga bata, ang hindi nakarehistro. Marami sa kanila ay buong pamilya, mula sa lolo, lola, tatay, nanay at mga anak, ang walang birth certificates - deprived of their fundamental right to identity and nationality," Fortun said.