Virlanie, as a member of Child Rights Network (CRN)’s core group on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics System (CRVS), calls on legislators to pass a policy that will establish a comprehensive, inclusive, and efficient national civil registration and vital statistics system which will protect the most vulnerable children and unregistered individuals.

Challenges in the current CRVS system

The Philippines faces several challenges in its current CRVS system. Aside from running on an 88-year-old law—the RA3753 or the Civil Registry Law, the system does not address the barriers that makes the number of unregistered individuals continuously increasing. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, as of February 2019, more than 5 million Filipinos remain unregistered, 40 percent of whom are children aged 0-14. .[1] Children’s registration is a prerequisite to accessing basic social services and is a means of protection from exploitation and abuse, among others. Additionally, cultural barriers especially among certain populations like Muslim Filipinos and indigenous peoples, and financial barriers among poor and those in remote and far-flung areas hinder complete and timely registration.

To ensure that everyone has legal identity, Virlanie believes that an accessible and comprehensive CRVS system should be in place. This means that the system should have the capacity to address the difficulties of birth registration by bringing it closer to people, making the process culturally sensitive, standardizing and modernizing the registration procedures, and removing or minimizing the fees required for birth registration.

CRN’s moves

Last February 27, 2019, in celebration of the Birth Registration Month, the CRN core group on CRVS organized a media forum to share its stance on the current situation of the birth registration system, and to launch its campaign “Register Every Pinoy Child Now”. See here: https://www.virlanie.org/general-news/child-rights-network-calls-for-free-and-inclusive-birth-registration/

Now, the team lobbies for the passage of the policy (written along with member organizations of CRN) to legislators of the 18th Congress of the Philippines. Among the salient features of the policy is the free registration of civil registry events for all. The policy calls to expand the coverage of CRVS through cost-free registration of births, deaths, and marriages and free issuance of certificate of live birth regardless of delay. It also aims to promote the inclusion children without known parents and indigenous peoples. The policy improves the system’s acceptability for individuals with absent/missing information and sensitivity to the unique cultural practices and identification systems of IPs before all government, public, private, commercial, and business transactions. To address physical accessibility issues, the policy also works on institutionalizing mobile birth registration and promoting participation of the barangays. For reliable and secured digital archiving of registered documents, digitization of civil registry files is called for.

Child Rights Network (CRN) is the largest alliance of organizations and agencies pushing for children’s rights legislation in the Philippines. CRN has a membership of 46 organizations across Luzon, Visayan, and Mindanao.


Footnotes:

[1] https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/02/27/19/5-million-pinoys-without-birth-certificate-psa

Assistant National Statistician Ronaldo Taghap said in his interview with ABS-CBN right after the CRVS Campaign Media Launch on February 27, 2019.

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