Friday, October 22, 2010

Birth Certificate Problems

Our Birth Certificates (Certificates of Live Birth) were kept and maintained by different offices in the municipality throughout the history of civil registration in the Philippines - by the Office of the Municipal Secretary, Office of the Municipal Secretary, Municipal Planning and Development Office, and finally in 1991, by the Local Civil Registrar Office or LCRO (see historical background of Civil Registration in the Philippines).

In the past, information contained in our birth certificates were not given the needed attention since they seem not to matter that much. We thought that errors in the entries can be easily corrected in the municipal halls and somehow it did worked for sometime. End-users like embassies, schools, employers and others are not very strict then in ascertaining the authenticity of the contents of the civil registry documents such as birth certificates and proliferation of fake ones became rampant. So rampant indeed that one can easily create his or her own birth certificate through the aid of unscrupulous persons who earn good sum of money in manufacturing any kind of fake documents including birth certificates. This prompted end-user organizations to ask for the NSO copies of birth certificates of their clienteles printed in security paper or SECPA. From then on, so many problems have propped up on the correctness of the information contained in so many birth certificates. This problem was aggravated by the costly (Php 40,000-Php 80,000) correction process a birth certificate must undergo in the judicial court, until Republic Act No. 9048 took effect in August 22, 2001. This act authorized the City or Municipal Civil Registrar or the Consul-General to correct a typographical error in an entry and/or change of first name or nickname in the civil register without need of a judicial order.
On August 15, 2012 Republic Act No. 10172 was enacted amending  RA 9048.  The new law further authorized the City or Municipal Civil Registrar or the Consul General to correct clerical or typographical errors in the day and month in the DATE OF BIRTH and SEX of a person in his/her birth certificate without having to go to court. 

Clerical errors were just among the problems people have realized upon holding and seeing the original (NSO) copies of their birth certificates. Many have realized that there's no record of their birth certificate at all. This could have been caused by non-forwarding of a copy of their birth certificate to the NSO (if they have a record in the Local Civil Registry Office of the municipality were they were born) or by non-registration. If they have the record in the LCRO (which is under the technical supervision of NSO), it can be endorsed to NSO central office so that a copy in security paper can be made available. Those who have no record at all can avail of the late registration process in the LCRO of their municipality of birth or through out-of-town registration in the LCRO of the municipality where he/she currently resides if far away from his/her municipality of birth.

Other people found out that a copy of their birth certificate have discrepancy (ies) compared to their NSO copy while they claimed that the correction was already done in the past. Possible cause of the disparity is that the correction was only made in the copy/record kept in the municipal/city hall while the copy sent to the NSO and stored in the central database remained uncorrected.

A piece of advice: To avoid the occurrence of erroneous entry(s) in your or your family member's birth certificate, see to it that ALL of the information provided in the birth certificate are correct (read each entry several times if possible) before signing it up (affixing your signature) as informant during the registration or before submitting it to the LCRO. The LCRO personnel can not be held liable/accountable for any error in the document since they are only doing their ministerial function of registering the birth (all entries are presumed correct upon signing by the informant who is usually the parent).