House pushes for free civil registration for IPs

MANILA A bill providing a free and culture-sensitive system of civil registration for indigenous peoples (IPs) has hurdled second reading at the House of Representatives.

According to a statement on Tuesday, the Lower House approved via voice vote House Bill No. 7849, or the proposed "Indigenous Peoples Civil Registration System (ICPRS) Act".

The bill aims to collect, update, and create a database of the members of the IPs and indigenous cultural communities (ICCs). It also seeks to provide a civil registration system that is responsive to the culture, customs, and traditions of the ICCs and IPs.

Under the bill, IPs shall be exempted from paying all fees in connection with the recording of birth, marriage, and death at the Local Civil Registry Office, and such exemption shall extend to any fine or fee for late registration.

The bill also exempts ICCs and IPs from the payment of notarial fees and documentary stamp tax in cases where the recording of the birth, marriage, or death requires the execution of affidavits or sworn statements and similar documents.

The proposed civil registration system for IPs shall recognize and respect their system of naming their members; the conclusive legal effect of their tribal authorities and elders in officiating and/or dissolving marriages; their elders, tribal doctors, or midwives as reportorial authorities in cases of birth and death of a member of the IPs or ICCs.

ANAC-IP party-list Rep. Jose Panganiban Jr., author of the bill, said members of ICCs and IPs are discouraged to register birth, marriage, and death events primarily because of financial burden.

He noted that the lack of a culturally-sensitive system of civil registration led to non-registration of IPs.

Because of the non-registration of their civil status, members of the ICCs and IPs are often neglected in the delivery of basic social services from the government, Panganiban said.

He said no data is available on the ethno-linguistics origin of the country's populace since almost 60 percent of the 22 million members of the ICCs and IPs are not registered with the civil registration agency.

The Philippine Statistics Authority earlier expressed support for the enactment into law of the bills, noting that it is a step forward in helping the ICCs and IPs maintain their cultural integrity. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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