By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Leila de Lima has urged the Senate to pass the measure seeking to impose stiffer penalties against personalities who fail to register and or falsify entries for birth, marriage and death certificates in civil registry.
“It is [an] affront to our way of life to intentionally fail to register or falsify the entries in civil registries,” De Lima said in explaining Senate Bill No. 1665.
The bill seeks to amend Section 9 of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 651, which mandates the immediate registration of births and deaths, and civil status, and penalties for violation of the said provision.
De Lima pointed out PD No. 651 was enacted specifically to preserve the integrity of the country’s civil registry, which is one of the most essential components of bureaucracy and governance.
“But it has undergone zero amendment or updating,” she pointed out.
Under the law, any person required under this decree to report for registration any fact concerning his or her civil status and who fails to do so, or who deliberately makes false statements in the birth or death form and presents the same for registration, shall pay a fine of not less than P500 nor more than P1,000.
Likewise, any person who violates any rule or regulation which may be issued pursuant to this decree and any local public health officer who fails to perform his duties as provided for in this decree, or violates any rule or regulation which may be issued pursuant to this decree, shall also pay the said penalty.
De Lima, however, proposed to increase the penalty for failure to register or falsification of the civil status per persons with a fine ranging from P40,000 to P1,200,000.
She said such amount is the corresponding range of fines on correctional penalties under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 10951.
“As a country, we need to be able to properly document our citizens in order to ensure that everyone will be accounted for and thus have access to all the blessings of democracy,” De Lima said.
The former justice secretary noted early this year, Congress enacted RA 10951, which adjusted that the penalties and fines imposed under the RPC to ensure that the level of punishment will remain commensurate to the crimes.
Thus, she said, a separate legislation to adjust the penalties under PD No. 651 to the current levels imposed under the RPC is needed.