By Philippine News Agency
MANILA — An umbrella organization of children’s rights groups on Wednesday called on the government to institutionalize a comprehensive civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) system or digitization of data.
In a media forum during the “Register Every Pinoy Child Now” campaign launch in line with the Birth Registration Month, the Child Rights Network (CRN) urged lawmakers and local government units that the CRVS system could address the 2.6 million unregistered Filipino children nationwide.
“An efficient CRVS system should address the difficulties of birth registration by making it accessible to people, simplifying the procedures, and removing or minimizing the fees required for birth registration,” Pauline de Guzman of CRN said.
“Every Pinoy child should have an access to civil registration,” she said.
The CRN is also pushing for digitization of data and establishment of culturally-sensitive Barangay Civil Registration System.
“This is to encourage more Muslim and indigenous people communities to have their vital events registered as soon as possible,” de Guzman said.
The CRN is calling on LGUs to waive fees on delayed registration as it hinders poor Filipinos from getting their legal identity.
“The right to an identity is one of the rights that most people have taken for granted. Without a legal identity, he or she is invisible in the eyes of government,” de Guzman said.
“Poverty and geographical barriers are among the reasons why many children cannot have their births registered on time,” she added.
De Guzman noted that 2.6 million is just 35 percent of the total unregistered Filipinos, which means that 7.5 million Filipinos do not have access to civil registry documents.
“Without a birth certificate, a child can’t enroll in school, can’t travel overseas and can’t avail of government health and education services, among others,” de Guzman said.
Meanwhile, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said it is important for the government to continue to fight for the welfare of the children.
“Fighting for children’s rights is one of my advocacies in my nine years as congressman of Ifugao,” Baguilat added.
Baguilat, one of the authors of the CRVS Bill in the 17th Congress, said the proposed measure is now in the committee level.
“I express my full support to register all Filipinos. I thank the CRN for their support,” he said.
“We shall continue to advocate against the child marriage and banning children from armed conflict,” he added.
On the other hand, Connie Salcedo, head of the Policy and Plans Division of the Council for the Welfare of Children, said there are already seven bills filed in Congress regarding CRVS.
The CRN cited the seven bills as its legislative agenda such as the Juvenile Justice, Universal Birth Registration, Statutory Rape, Positive Discipline, Inclusive Education, Child Marriage and Exploitation of Children, whether online or offline.
The CRN is the largest alliance of organizations and agencies pushing for children’s rights registration in the Philippines. It has 47 member-organizations across the country.
Among others, its members are the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development, Foundation, Inc., Bahay Tuluyan, Plan International and World Vision.