TACLOBAN CITY – Destroyed civil documents remain a big concern in majority of storm-stricken villages after strong winds and storm surges destroyed copies of vital documents.
In a survey conducted in March, recently released by the Protection Cluster, composed of humanitarian response organizations and government agencies, only 34% of the population in villages surveyed have their civil documents.
“Both displaced and affected population is assessed barangays have problems with civil documentation: they have lost their documents because of Yolanda and don’t have enough financial resources to renew them,” the study said.
The research found that 63% of the population surveyed were not able to get new copies of birth, marriage, and death certificates since they have no money. About 48% failed to reconstruct records because they lost all required documents.
Three out of every 10 responders cited the distance between their house to the civil registrar as a major stumbling block. About 25% of survivors have difficulty of securing civil documentation requirements due to complicated process.
The survey covered 84 villages in 34 towns of Leyte, Eastern Samar and Samar provinces. The assessment targeted families with damaged homes who are now living in bunkhouses, tents, and makeshift houses.
“But prior to the typhoon, there was already a problem of access to civil documentation in the assessed barangays,” the survey added.
Edgardo B. Ligon, executive director of the Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS) asked stakeholders to be more considerate of the plight of survivors who lost their homes, family members, livelihoods, and legal documents.
“Why don’t we make the civil registration completely free if we really want these people to avail basic services? Ligon asked in a statement. “I don’t understand why the government requires legal documents and make policies that complicates the process of acquiring it.”
Basically, every city municipality requires a late registrant to secure the following documents (with corresponding processing fees): barangay certificate (P30), documentary stamp (P20), baptismal certificate (P100 to P150), and voter registration certificate (P75).
Each LGU also collects P100 to P500 penalty for late registration. The amount varies depending on the economic classification of a town or city. In addition, an individual needs to spend for drafting of affidavits and transportation from their village to the town center.
“How can you expect a poor man with a daily income of P100 to secure these documents for his family? No wonder many people died without certificate of live births,” Ligon observed.
IDEALS, in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee launched the mobile civil registration project. The initiative shouldered the cost of forms, provided computers and printers to the local civil registrar, and deployed 200 community workers and additional staff to facilitate community-based civil registration.
IDEALS is also negotiating with the Philippine Statistics Authority to provide free security paper copies of civil records for 100,000 storm survivors.