Autonomous Muslim region enacts free birth registration act
Cotabato City – A regional legislation enacted earlier this week will now make birth registration easier for residents in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Signed into law by acting ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman, Muslim Mindanao Autonomy (MMA) Act 293 otherwise known as the “Free Birth Registration Act”, innovates the usual process of birth registration in the region including late registrations. It also removes the accompanying fees that often discourage parents from securing birth certificates for their child and calls on, massive promotion of the importance of birth registrations among ARMM residents.
Hataman said birth registration forms will be made available not only in all birthing stations across the region but also in other rural health centers and barangays.
The act is expected to help address problems that result from the lack of authentic birth certificates among a considerable number of individuals in the region and allow the regional government to get a good evaluation of its population.
Hataman said a loose policy in the past has allowed a number of employees in the regional government who are believed to have reached or are beyond retirement age to continue in the service. “We hope the law will address problems like this in the coming years,” he said.
He said the Commission on Audit (CoA) now requires all contractual and casual employees to submit birth certificates certified to be authentic by the National Statistics Office (NSO).
The law’s main author, Assemblywoman Rahima Datumanong Alba of the 2nd district of Maguindanao, said MMA Act 293 is part of the commitment of the ARMM government to the country’s millennium development goals (MDG).
“We want this law to be instrumental in securing some of the principal rights of every child in the ARMM,” she said.
Free birth registration is being keenly supported by two United Nations (UN) agencies – UN Childrens Fund (Unicef) and the UN Higher Commission on Refugees (UNHCR).
Trevor Clark, chief of Unicef’s Cotabato City field office, said they have provided and will continue to provide technical assistance to the ARMM government on free birth registration.
He said they support agenda being championed by the ARMM government that “give more rights to the children.” (ARMM Communications Group)