Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman asked local government units (LGUs) in Yolanda-hit areas to waive any fees in processing of civil registration documents.
In a recent launching of a mobile civil registration project in Palo, Leyte the cabinet official urged local chief executives to be more considerate of the plight of Yolanda victims, who badly need identity documents to access claims and benefits.
“My appeal to LGUs is to waive all civil registration fees. This will encourage people to register all family members and enjoy their rights to services,” Soliman said in a gathering attended by some mayors in Eastern Visayas.
Soliman clarified that the proposed waiving of fees would just be temporary, while Yolanda survivors are still bearing the brunt of the typhoon’s destruction.
In the case of Tacloban City, considered as Yolanda’s ground zero, Atty. Anna Liza C. Albaniel, the local civil registrar said that the Sangguniang Panglungsod is positively responding to the plea of the national government.
“After presenting the draft memorandum of agrement (MOA) to them, the Sangguniang Panglungsod committed to suspend all civil registration fees,” Albaniel said referring to the MOA on mobile civil registration recently signed by stakeholhders, including 20 mayors in the region.
Among the fees that city civil registrar office charges are the P500 filing fee for late registration of birth, P300 application fee for marriage license, and P500 fee for correction of misspelled names.
Responding to Soliman’s request, Guiuan, Eastern Samar Mayor Christopher Gonzales vowed to ask the local sanggunian to pass an ordinance suspending the collection civil registration fees.
“I am positive that other LGUs will also waive the fees. I agree with Secretary Soliman that it’s not only houses that should be reconstructed, but identities of victims as well. It’s our problem too that our constituents lost vital documents,” Gonzales stressed.
Addressing the local chief executives, Soliman recalled that few weeks after super typhoon Yolanda struck central Philippines, she heard about the legal assistance drive from IDEALS Executive Director Egad Ligon and Palo Vice Mayor Ronnan Reposar, one of the lawyers actively engaged in the project.
IDEALS stands for Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services, the non-government organization carrying out the Access to Benefits and Claims after Disaster (ABCD) project in Eastern Visayas. Civil registration is a component of ABCD project.
“We know that it’s hard to reconstruct records especially that civil registrar offices and the National Statistics Office was destroyed by Yolanda. People need vital documents to enjoy their rights to access social benefit and other services,” Soliman added.