ABOUT 25 percent of the population in Eastern Visayas have no birth registration records, raising concern that people without legal identities may not access social services and protection.

Citing a 2015 report presented in a meeting with stakeholders on Thursday, March 1, Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) Regional Director Wilma Perante said only 75 percent of people in the region have certificate of live births.

“The level of birth registration is very low in Eastern Visayas despite years of strengthened civil registration education campaign. We are the second lowest region in the country,” Perante told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

She said the low registration is not really expected considering that in 2015, nine out of 10 birth deliveries in the region were attended by physicians, nurses, and midwives inside hospitals, rural health units and birthing clinics.

“Birth attended by health professionals increased from 87.06 percent in 2014 to 91.11 percent in 2015, while birth attended by unlicensed traditional midwives dropped from 12.53 percent to 8.21 percent in the same period,” Perante added.

When the birth occurred in a hospital or clinic, the management will be responsible in registration of the birth within 30 days.

She admitted that not all births attended by health professional are registered with PSA especially for children with unmarried parents.

“The process of registering illegitimate children is complicated and more costly. This is one of the reasons of low registration we found in our study,” she said.

During the Civil Registration Month celebration in February, the PSA and local government units initiated several activities anchored on the theme “#napapanahongCRVS.” CRVS stands for civil registration and vital statistics.

The theme is in consonance with the global advocacy of getting everyone registered and promoting awareness on the importance of civil registration in the lives of every Filipino.

Civil registration is “napapanahon” (timely) according to the PSA official since the country is pushing for national ID system for every Filipino.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations also emphasizes the need for recording of vital events such as births and deaths for policy and planning purposes.

Of the 17 SDGs, the UN found a direct link between eight goals and CRVS. These goals are no poverty; no hunger; good health and well-being; quality education; gender equality; reduced inequalities; peace, justice and strong institutions; and partnership for the goals.

Poor families, according to Perante, need civil registry documents to access some anti-poverty programs, open bank accounts, own properties, avail health services, enroll school, avail post-disaster assistance, among others.

Such is the case of siblings Edison, 5, and Eddielyn, 3, from Palamrag village, who don’t have certificate of live births. For their aunt, Myrna Dadul, the document is the only way for the poor children to gain their basic rights.

The two kids were abandoned by their own mother, neglected by their father, and deprived of basic health services from the government like immunizations due to the absence of civil registration record.

Their world-weary grandfather, Alfeo Dadul, 78, assumed the parenting task. Last week, Myrna went to the town hall to avail herself of the free registration program in line with the Civil Registration month celebration.

PSA and local government units have lined up activities to highlight the month-long celebration such as symposia, data dissemination seminars, trainings, exhibits, slogan, and poster making contests, information and education campaign, and hanging of streamers. (PNA)