CAGAYAN DE ORO

Sunio: No 'proof of existence'

Touché

WHAT would you do if the government does not even recognize your existence?

A Certificate of Live Birth (Colb) is a proof of one’s citizenship. By having one, a person may access some of the State’s basic services such as education and hospitalization, among others.

By being documented, one may go to school, marry, apply for a passport to explore what is beyond the seas, be allowed to drive a vehicle, apply for housing loans, and other privileges that Filipino citizens can avail of.

Basically, a Colb is a proof of one’s existence. It’s a record that allows one to be recognized by a country as their own, their citizen -- someone they are accountable for.

Unfortunately, many families here in Lanao del Sur and other areas where minorities live are “undocumented.” Practically, the government does not know of their existence.

Because of this, many families cannot admit their family members to the hospital. Some kids also cannot last long at school because they cannot submit a birth certificate to the registrar. Many who aspired to earn a living through driving vehicles also cannot apply for a driver’s license.

Just by having no birth certificate, it already breeds illiteracy, sickness, and then feeds the vicious poverty cycle. Since they cannot go to school, many also have no knowledge of how to apply to obtain birth certificates -- or even how to fill one up.

In Lanao del Sur, many were not able to be registered as 4Ps beneficiaries or recipients of Dafac because they cannot submit a certificate of live birth.

There are also many married couples in the region who do not have marriage certificates. This may be a problem in registering their children to certain programs or benefits.

Fortunately, many organizations are on the move to reach out to communities and assist them in acquiring their birth certificates.

The process is tedious and long, but it is because late birth registration needs to undergo cross checks and verifications to make sure that the entries are accurate and that double entries in the database may be avoided.

Some may have thought that basic government services are out of reach, but actually, they may have been able to avail of it if only they are "recognized" as citizens.

These organizations may only provide the families a piece of paper for now, but the long-term benefits will surely follow.

(rizsunio@gmail.com)


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