North Luzon Monitor

North Luzon

Breaking the cycle of invisibility

Breaking the cycle of invisibility

Across Metro Manila and the remote corners of our country, a silent crisis unfolds—a crisis of identity, denied rights, and uncertain futures. In the Philippines, approximately 3.7 million people live without a birth certificate that proves their existence.

Imagine a child who doesn’t have a birth certificate, who has no way to prove their identity or their place in society. Birth certificates are more than just documents; they’re a source of essential services, a protection from discrimination, and a gateway to dignity. Yet, this basic right remains out of reach for millions of Filipinos.

Why? Born in isolated areas or urban slums, these individuals face insurmountable obstacles. Lack of awareness and education, financial costs, and inaccessible registration centers trap them in a cycle of invisibility.

Civil registration is not just paperwork; it’s a matter of life and death. Those without birth certificates are not just invisible; they are vulnerable. They are prone to exploitation, abuse, and denied access to basic services such as health care, education, and employment. Their existence is questioned, their rights are dismissed, and their future is uncertain.

The ones who suffer the most are our children, the future of our country. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, 43% of unregistered Filipinos are children and adolescents under 19 years old. They are denied not just their rights but their childhood, their innocence tainted by a system that fails to acknowledge their existence.

Our nation’s development is stifled by the lack of registration. Developing policies and allocating resources are severely hindered by inaccurate population data. Without knowing the identities and locations of our citizens, how can we address their educational and health needs?

However, this need not be the case. As a nation, as a community, and as individuals, we are capable of change. It is our duty to ensure that every Filipino is recognized, counted, and valued.

The recent approval of the Civil Registration Bill by the House Committee on Population and Family Relations, chaired by Isabela Rep. Ian Paul Dy, is a step in the right direction. The bill consolidates efforts from multiple House Bills to establish a comprehensive and responsive civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) system. We now keenly await the Senate to sponsor a counterpart bill at the Committee on Health and Demography, chaired by Sen. Bong Go.

Let’s strive for a comprehensive, inclusive, and responsive CRVS system. Let us remove all physical, bureaucratic, and social barriers preventing our fellow Filipinos from registering. We must implement outreach programs to educate parents about the importance of birth registration and simplify the process so that it can be accessed by all parents. Mobile registration units can reach remote areas, ensuring that no child goes unregistered.

This change can be made if we all come together. The Civil Registration Bill must be passed to ensure that every Filipino is counted and given the opportunity to lead a dignified life. The Senate’s prompt action in sponsoring a counterpart bill is crucial. Let us unite to support the passage of this vital legislation.  By Andrei Villamor

About the author:

Andrei Villamor is an advocate for Universal Birth Registration. He is an Advocacy and Partnerships Officer of the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development, the organization that convenes the Child Rights Network.

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