HERNANI, Eastern Samar – Julio Gloria was just 35 years old when he registered the birth of his son in the local civil registrar’s (LCR) office. He just turned 48, but still doubtful if his son could get an authenticated copy of certificate of live birth.
His skepticism was stemmed from an incident seven years ago in Manila, when his youngest son, Jaypee needed copy of birth certificate from the National Statistics Office – a standard requirement for enrollment in a public elementary school.
“We were in Manila back then. I went to the NSO office to get a copy of my child’s live birth, but I found out that he’s not actually registered,” Gloria recalled.
It was a big surprise to him since he was sure that his son’s birth is recorded in the LCR and he got the registry number – a sequential number indicating the order by which the document for registration is entered in the appropriate civil registry book.
Jaypee’s civil registration took place few days after his birth to ensure that recording is within the 30-day reglementary period.
“I went back to my hometown here in Hernani to check what really happened. I discovered that my son’s birth registration number was already used by a girl. That was very disappointing,” he added.
In 2010, for the second time, Gloria processed his son’s civil registration record, pay a considerable amount as penalties for late registration, get a new registration number, but still wondering if he could get an authenticated copy printed in a security paper.
“I found myself paying for someone else negligence,” said Gloria, considered as the most well-versed man on civil documentation in San Miguel village, being the barangay secretary for half a decade. His task is to orient villagers about the process of civil registration.
His case is not isolated in this economically-depressed town flattened by both fierce winds and storm surges. A team from IDEALS found that many residents – young and old – have no birth certificates, especially those deliveries attended by hilots or traditional birth attendants.
In San Roque village, Marabut, Samar, couple Gerardo and Mylene Silvano are still puzzling on how to register the birth of their third child, Megan, who was born October 12, 2013 aboard an ambulance, heading to the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center in Tacloban City.
“We asked the hospital to help us process civil registration of my child’s birth, but they told us to go to our town’s local civil registrar office. We’re not able to process the registration within 30 days because we have no money for us to get to the town center and I have to attend to the needs of my wife,” recalled Silvano, a low-income farmer.
When super typhoon Yolanda struck three weeks after Megan’s birth, the couple almost forgot the need to process the documentation.
According to NSO, “when a child is born aboard a vehicle, vessel or airplane while in transit within Philippine territory and the exact place of birth could not be ascertained, the birth shall be recorded in the civil register of the city or municipality of the mother’s destination or where the mother habitually resides.
Now that the registration of his child’s birth is already delayed, the Silvano couple has to obtain copies of baptismal certificate, barangay certification, and affidavits. Earlier, they sought an assistance from a team of community workers of IDEALS.
A study of the United Nations Children’s Fund disclosed that unregistered children are almost always from poor, marginalized or displaced families or from countries where systems of registration are not in place or functional.
Civil documentation is also constrained by lack of awareness on the importance of civil registration, difficulty of reaching the city or town proper, and financial capability to pay documentation fees.
Under regular procedures, securing a birth certificate entails a fee of between P200 and P500, depending on the classification local government units (LGUs). Under the IDEALS-led mobile civil registration project, LGUs agreed to waive all registration fees until June 30.