NSO: 3 out of 10 kids have no birth certificates

By Marlet Salazar

THREE out of ten Filipino children under the age of five do not have birth certificates, according to the unofficial Census 2000 report of the National Statistics Office.

The NSO's Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey of 1999 showed that of the more than 75 million Filipinos living in the country, five million, or 7 percent, are still not registered with the Local Civil Registrar.

Alarmed by this development, the NSO Office of the Civil Registrar, with the assistance of Plan Philippines, a child-centered non-government organization, began conducting birth registrations all over the country through the Unregistered Children Project (UCP) in 2000.

"We prioritize the need to come up with a system of registration for the Muslims, indigenous people, and children in need of special protection," said Civil Registrar General Carmelita Ericta said during a forum held recently at the Sulo Hotel in Quezon City.

The report mentioned several barriers to birth registration. Among them are: lack of awareness on the importance of birth registration, social and cultural barriers, legal and policy issues, economic barriers, and geographic or physical barriers.

Ericta said there are also a number of adults who do not have birth certificates and are not registered with the NSO.

Non-registration of birth is evident among Muslims, indigenous peoples, and street children in the urban areas, Ericta said.

The UCP has identified 32 municipalities in the Cordillera region and Mindanao where low birth registrations have been reported.

The NSO and Plan Philippines also plan to take on cases of individuals who cannot locate their birth certificates, or who do not know if they are registered.

A registered birth certificate is a person's ticket to various benefits a rightful citizen is entitled to, according to Ericta.

The civil registrar said that the registration of a child signifies the State's first official acknowledgment of the child's existence.

It is short of saying that a person who does not hold a birth certificate does not officially exist, Ericta added.

The project is implemented through information dissemination and educational campaigns. Ericta said that they are now focusing on capacity building for the local civil registrars and birth registration agents.

The local officials are now undergoing training and mobilization so as to minimize such problems in the future, Ericta added.

The NSO has come up with a standard manual for birth registration agents. Around 4,000 agents and assistants are being trained.

"We are confident that the initial objective (of 100 percent registration) will be met this year," according to M. Supriyanto, Plan Philippines country manager.

According to Article 8 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child ratified in July 1990, "Whereas, a child is illegally deprived of some or all of the elements of his or her identity, State parties shall provide /appropriate assistance and protection, with a view to speedily re-establishing his or her identity."


Bron : Inq7.net

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