The House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill 7849, which seeks to provide for a free and culture-sensitive civil registration system for Indigenous Peoples (IPs).
The proposed “Indigenous Peoples Civil Registration System (ICPRS) Act”, principally authored by ANAC-IP Party-list Rep. Jose Panganiban Jr., mandates the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), in collaboration with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIIP), National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), Philippine Association of Civil Registrars, National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA), and distinguished anthropologists and selected IP leaders and elders to establish an ICPRS that is free of charges and fines as well as sensitive and appropriate to the unique cultural practices and identification systems of IPs in harmony with existing civil registry laws and systems.
The measure defines IPs as a group of people or homogenous societies identified by self-ascription and ascription by others, who have continuously lived as organized community on communally bounded and defined territory.
IPs are further defined as those who have, under claims of ownership since time immemorial, occupied, possessed, and utilized such territories sharing common bonds of language through resistance to political, social, and cultural inroads of colonization, non-indigenous religions and cultures, became historically differentiated from the majority of Filipinos.
IPs likewise include those who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations who inhabited the country at the time of conquest or colonization, or at the time of inroads or non-indigenous religions and cultures, of the establishment of present state boundaries, and who have retained some or all of their own social, economic, cultural, and political institutions, but who may have been displaced from their traditional domains or who may have resettled outside their ancestral domains.
The measure seeks to recognize and respect the IPs’ system of naming their members; conclusive legal effect of their tribal authorities and elders in officiating and/or dissolving marriages; and their elders, tribal doctors, or midwives as reportorial authorities in cases of birth and death of a member of IPs and Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs).
As such, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) is mandated to re-design its civil registry forms appropriate to the cultures of IPs/ICCs.
Instead of issuing separate forms for the IPCRS, the PSA National Statistician shall cause the amendment of existing civil registry forms for uniformity of all civil registry documents to ensure acceptability by end-use agencies or institutions of the information contained in the documents and ease of establishing filial bonds between or among parent or parents and child.
Moreover, the bill exempts IPs from the payment of all fees in the recording of their birth, marriage, and death at the Local Civil Registry (LCR) Office and such an exemption shall extend to any fine or fee for late registration.
The bill exempts IPs from the payment of all fees in the recording of their birth, marriage, and death at the Local Civil Registry LCR Office and such an exemption shall extend to any fine or fee for late registration.
IPs shall also be exempted 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.
All rules and regulation as well as orders and circulars which prescribe a period for reporting to the LCR the birth, marriage, or death of any person shall also not apply to IPs.
LCRs and concerned local government units shall conduct within their areas of jurisdiction, in coordination with the NCIP and NCMF, periodic civil registration campaigns targeting the IPs in far-flung communities.
The PSA, NCIP, and NCMF shall extend administrative and technical assistance in the conduct of mobile registration campaigns for IPs.
To encourage IPs to avail of or participate in the IPCRS, the PSA, NCIP, and NCMF together with the Department of Interior and Local Government, other agencies of the national government and the civil registry offices of local government units shall conduct information and education campaigns to encourage IPs to avail of or participate in the IPCRS.
In terms of punishable acts and corresponding penalties, HB 7849 prohibits the collection of fees, fines, or penalties in cash or in kind by any government employee or official or by any person in connection with the civil registration of birth, marriage, or death of IPs. Such acts shall be penalized with a fine of P5,000 and imprisonment of three months.
The bill prohibits collection of fees, fines, or penalties in cash or in kind by any government employee or official or by any person in connection with the civil registration of birth, marriage, or death of IPs. Such acts shall be penalized with a fine of P5,000 and imprisonment of three months.
Meanwhile, inducing IPs to pay in cash or in kind in order to be able to register a birth, marriage, or death shall be penalized with fine of P2,000 and imprisonment of three months.
Finally, it is considered a punishable act to misrepresent one’s self as a tribal leader or elder, tribal doctor or midwife, or member of an indigenous community. Each act of misrepresentation shall be penalized with imprisonment of one year.