IDEALS believes in every person’s right to social protection, regardless of class, status, ethnicity and nature of work. In its work, IDEALS is cognizant that the access to social protection and safety net measures needs to correspond with the end goal of reducing the economic and social vulnerabilities of marginalized communities.
In the wake of disasters such as the unprecedented Yolanda, individual, economic, environmental, and social risks are magnified at the community level and social protection systems play an important role in the relief, recovery and, in the long-term, achieving inclusive rights-based development.
In the early weeks after supertyphoon Yolanda, most of the Local Government Units (LGUs) were heavily devastated and basic government facilities, human resource, systems and documentation were destroyed and rendered non-functional. These compounding factors raised a growing concern on the projected difficulties the victims are confronted with in filing their requests for legal claims and benefits. As families-victims and survivors began to look for more strategic actions toward recovery and rehabilitation, the dearth in responding to their legal needs and social protection issues surfaced as urgent in the post-emergency crisis situation.
The Access to Benefits and Claims after Disaster (ABCD) Project, spearheaded by Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment Through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS) Inc., responded to the legal assistance needed by the families-victims and survivors of Yolanda. The objective is help to beneficiaries in their legal claims and access to benefits from both government social protection agencies and private institutions and insurances. IDEALS has established a physical office, the Legal Mission Center, in Palo, Leyte. Legal cliniquing and basic legal assistance are offered for free daily at the Legal Mission Center since December 2013.
Legal Documentation: Civil Registration and Reconstitution of Identity Documents
One of the major findings from the ABCD project was the substantial prerequisite of identification documents for beneficiaries to access available benefits and legal claims. The loss of civil records and other legal documents of victims and survivors due to the onslaught of the disaster has become the bottleneck in terms of rehabilitation and recovery measures on the ground.
IDEALS partners with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for its Mobile Civil Registration Project. Beneficiaries from 18 municipalities and 2 cities are being assisted and community organizers are mobilized on the ground. This initiative works on filling the gap of reconstituting Identification Documents (IDs) and Civil Registrations, reestablishment relationships (Death Certification and Marriage Certification), registration of non-registrants (late registration of Birth, Death and Marriage) and correction of entries for Birth, Death and Marriage certifications.
IDEALS provides legal cliniquing/legal advice, notarial services and other legal services for establishing identity or proof of identification of victims/survivors in the Legal Mission Center, initiation or filing of legal claims and access to benefits through referral, facilitation application for claims and benefits or even direct representation by lawyers and capacitating barangay officials in legal documentation.
Legal Education & Information Dissemination
The airing of a local radio program is supported by IDEALS to effectively disseminate information on basic legal issues confronting beneficiaries in accessing legal claims and benefits. UNDER REPAIR, a live call-in radio program in Palo, Leyte, broadcasts thrice a week, every Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays from 5:00 to 6:00 pm in the local radio station DYVL, reaching even far-flung areas and island communities affected by the disaster. The language used is Waray and the listening audience reach extends to the entire Visayas region and to some areas in Mindanao.
A continuing legal intervention is indispensable and coverage must be broaden in order to address the legal needs of the much larger number of families-survivors in the other disaster-affected areas.
The legal research for the ABCD project produced an inventory of all available claims and benefits on social protection, insurance and other benefits accorded to families-victims of typhoon Yolanda. Covered in the legal research are government social protection agencies, Social Security System (SSS), Government Security Insurance System (GSIS), PhilHealth and Pag-Ibig Housing Fund. Benefits and privileges offered by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) also form part of the legal research. The research covered matters relating to claims from private insurance companies and issues concerning survivorship, reconstitution of legal documents, and certification and registration of birth and death.
Policy Advocacy and Influencing
Policy advocacy on claims and benefits within the context of disasters and emergency situations calls for a broader multi-stakeholder involvement. Issues on land rights, labor rights, property rights and social protection were some of the policy concerns that surfaced in the ABCD Initiative. IDEALS works to contribute in the inclusion of social protection and benefits in disaster risk reduction management policy and plan of the national government and local government units.