DEAN MASIDING NOOR YAHYA
Founder and Editor-In-Chief Ranao Star Philippines
The Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services, Incorporated (IDEALS, Inc.) has taken the lead in addressing the legal needs of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) through legal missions and mobile civil registration caravans among the affected barangays in Marawi City.
We express our sincerest gratitude in covering and publishing the article “Birth certificates for Maranaos are free of charge: legal group” last June 18 in the Ranao Star Philippines. We are grateful for the article‟s emphasis on the importance of legal identification and civil registration especially with the slew of humanitarian crises and conflict in Muslim Mindanao.
We believe that it is necessary for IDPs, and the general public, to know more about the Muslim Mindanao Act (MMA) No. 293 entitled „An Act Establishing Free Birth Registration in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Providing Funds Therefor.‟
However, we found the article lacking in its elaboration of our partnership with the Local Civil Registrar of Marawi City. As of May 9, our fruitful partnership with Marawi‟s LCR and COMELEC has already provided 5,541 NSO birth certificates, 2,347 voter‟s certification, and 205 marriage certificates to IDPs.
The article also said that the application for birth certificates are free without exceptions, and in the same note, explicitly indicated that the LCR-Marawi City has been collecting fees from applicants.
While much of this is true, we would like to further clarify the issue.
The actual interview was focused regarding the current project in documenting the amount of damages, and losses of properties of the IDPs. Yet, in the statements of the published article, it tackled more on the statements that have been uttered in the later part of the interview regarding the other projects of the IDEALS such as the mobile civil registrations. This is the reason why Muslim Mindanao Act No. 293 entitled ‘AN ACT ESTABLISHING FREE BIRTH REGISTRATION IN THE AUTONOMOUS REGION IN MUSLIM MINDANAO AND PROVIDING FUNDS THEREFOR.’ was mentioned on the spur of the moment.
The Municipality and City Civil Registrars of Lanao del Sur, being part of the ARMM are bound by MMA No. 293 to provide free birth registrations. However, it is still necessary for them to collect reasonable fees to sustain their everyday operations.
This is stated in Section 8 of the Republic Act No. 10172 where the collected fees are used for the modernization of the LCR office, hiring of new personnel, and procurement of supplies.
We reiterate our core belief that legal identification transcends race, age, status, gender, and religion. It is a basic human right and should be treated as one. One’s legal identity is a gateway, not only for recognition, but to access even the most basic of social services.
We hope that this letter would clarify the issues that may arise in the future and would enlighten the readers of Ranao Star Philippines. Again, thank you for putting our Marawi Response in your gazette.
For a better Marawi,
(Sgd) Mohamad Rayyan M. Domado
Ms. Rawiya Pangadapun, Marawi City Civil Registrar
Marawi City Mayor’s Office
All Municipal Civil Registrars of Lanao del Sur