House approves IPs participation in the civil registration system

THE House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill providing for a culture-sensitive civil registration system for indigenous peoples (IPs).

The approved measure, House Bill 6419, substituted House Bill 4701authored by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) and House Bill 5184 introduced by Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan (Party-list, Gabriela).

The bill’s plenary approval was endorsed by the House Committee on National Cultural Communities chaired by Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, Jr. (Lone District, Ifugao).

Rodriguez said the measure aims to encourage the participation of the country’s IPs in the civil registration.

Rodriguez said the bill will provide both timely and late registration of acts and events concerning the civil status of indigenous peoples, particularly on birth, marriage, dissolution of marriage and death, be rendered free of charge.

“Birth registration is not generally known among disadvantaged Filipinos particularly in IPs and underprivileged families with children in need of special protection.  Among these groups, birth registration remains insignificant.  Many of them understand the implications of non-registration only when they get to experience problems in transactions requiring proofs of name, age or nationality,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said this lack of birth registration is often caused by the fact that many of these IPs are indigent and lack the necessary finances to be able to register.

Ilagan cited reports by Katipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) that there are about eight million IPs divided into more or less 100 ethnic groups in the Philippines.

Ilagan added that of this number, however, more than a majority can be considered as undocumented as their vital data (birth, marriage and death) have been largely unrecorded in the local civil registry. This is affirmed by various studies which reported that levels of birth registration among the marginalized sectors (including IPs) have been very low.

“The extant civil registration system in the country was instituted through the passage of Act No. 3763 in 1930, when the country was still under American tutelage. Although this system had undergone several administrative revisions to fit into the changing times and conditions, it has retained much of its basically colonial framework,” Ilagan noted.

Ilagan said to illustrate, among others, most IPs do not use clocks. They also do not use the calendar and their territorial boundaries are largely un-delineated.  Many of them still reckon time and space in accordance with an oral tradition based on the geology motions and landmarks of nature.

“The Tasadays, for example, in Southern Mindanao still go around on a one-name basis, replete with first name, surname and middle name,” Ilagan said.

Under the measure to be known as the “Free and Culture-Sensitive Indigenous Peoples Civil Registration System Act of 2012,” reports by the IPs themselves or their parent/s or by the concerned tribal priest/elder leader/doctor/midwife concerning birth, marriage, dissolution of marriage and death, which were attended to or were conducted following their traditional cultural practices be acceptable upon the Local Civil Registry Office without requiring any additional documents.

The bill amends the existing civil registry forms to ensure uniformity of all civil registry documents.


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