2014.egad.ligon.launchingTACLOBAN CITY – A non-government organization (NGO) is seeking to defer printing fees of 100,000 copies of civil registration documents for survivors of super typhoon Yolanda.

Edgardo B. Ligon, executive director of the Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS) said there has been preliminary talks between their organization, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to give free copies of vital records.

“The proposal is still on the drawing board. We are hoping that this will be approved or else we will find a way to shoulder the cost since target beneficiaries are the poorest of the poor and they couldn’t afford to pay,” Ligon said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority – National Statistics Office, an agency under NEDA, charges P140 for each authenticated copy of birth, marriage, and death certificates printed in security papers.

It would cost P14 million to shoulder the cost of printing for 100,000 target beneficiaries. The mobile civil registration project, primarily funded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) was launched in April and it will run until June.

As of this week, more than 44,000 individuals have been listed for processing of documents.

The project also provided computers and printers to the local civil registrar, and deployed 200 community workers and additional staff to facilitate community-based civil registration.

Earlier, the project asked local government units to waive all civil registration fees until June 2014.

IDEALS noted that one of the major hindrance for the NSO to provide free copies is the deal between the agency and its service provider Unisys Public Sector Services Corp. In 2002, Unisys invested P2.12-billion for the computerization civil registry system under the build-transfer and operate scheme (BTO).

Joylyn Bajen, 42, a mother of seven in Buscada village in Basey, Samar is one of the thousands of Yolanda survivors hoping to reconstruct their civil registration documents.

“When I found out that all records were swept away by storm surge, the first question I had in mind is how my seven children would continue their education. I am praying that I will be obtain free copies since I don’t have money,” said Ms.

Bajen, whose husband earns only P250 daily as a construction worker.

The documents will reestablish the survivor’s civil identities, thus allowing them to access government aid, education, and employment.

“While we concentrate on physical rehabilitation, we should also concentrate on the rehabilitation of the heart. What goes to the heart and mind of survivors. Restoration of legal records is important. It is giving back dignity to these people,” said Bernard Kerblat, UNHCR Philippines representative.

For the registration project, the UNHCR has allocated US$380,000 for the procurement of computers, printers, forms, generator sets, and mobilization of teams, according to Kerblat.

Legal aid advocate seeks deferment of civil records printing fees

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