Matigsalugs in Davao village remain undocumented

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Matigsalug women in Barangay Baganihan, Davao City want their children to be registered with the local civil registrar, as schools would require their birth certificates before they can be enrolled. Photo taken March 17, 2019. MindaNews photo by H. MARCOS C. MORDENO

BARANGAY BAGANIHAN, Davao City (MindaNews/19 March) – Many Matigsalug residents of this village along the Bukidnon-Davao Highway wish to pursue higher education but have been hindered by the absence of one thing each Filipino citizen should have – a birth certificate.

Levilyn Pinaray, 29, said she had wanted to proceed to high school after finishing Grade 6.

“Pero wala ko nakapadayon kay gipangitaan man kog birth certificate ayha ko maka-enroll (But I wasn’t able to continue my studies because I was asked to submit a birth certificate),” she said in an interview Sunday.

Pinaray said she’s worried her 10-year old daughter, Ferlyjane, who is now in Grade 5 would face the same problem after finishing elementary.

“Basin di na pod siya maka-enroll sa high school kay wala man pod siya ma-rehistro (I’m afraid she can’t enroll in high school too because she has not been registered),” she said.

Marilou Talisan, 35, a mother of five, also said she and all her children have not been registered with the local civil registrar.

“My son, Remy Jr., had to stop upon reaching Grade 8 because he was required to produce a birth certificate before he may enroll. He cried because he could no longer pursue his studies,” Talisan said in Cebuano.

Remy Jr. is now 15 years old, she said.

Asked if they have gone to the local civil registrar, Talisan said the Matigsalugs here could hardly afford the cost of going to the city to have themselves and their children registered. She said they would rather spend whatever money they earn on food.

Cristina Talisan said there are around 75 Matigsalug families in their purok (sub-village) and most of them don’t have birth certificates.

She said there is an average of 5-6 children per family, although some families have 8-9 children.

Matigsalug children in Barangay Baganihan, Davao City have not been registered with the local civil registrar. The absence of such document has hindered many of them from pursuing higher education. Photo taken March 17, 2019. MindaNews photo by H. MARCOS C. MORDENO

But Pinaray said they were able to register as voters. Asked if the Commission on Elections asked for their birth certificates, she answered, “No”.

She added she obtained a marriage certificate after she and her husband, Patrick Pinaray, joined a tribal mass wedding years ago.

She said they were not required to show a birth certificate before the mass wedding.

The law requires birth certificates for marriages as well as a certificate from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) that neither of the parties who wish to marry each other has been married.

The absence of a birth certificate explains why many Matigsalugs here, especially the elder ones, can’t tell their exact ages, Pinaray said.

One such resident is Ana Ansulog, a farmer who just estimated her age at around 60 because she didn’t know her birthday.

DepEd policy on birth certificate

In an order dated 26 January 2018, the Department of Education (DepEd) requires a birth certificate issued by the PSA formerly the National Statistics Office for enrollees in kindergarten and Grades 1, 7 and 11.

Like most other Matigsalugs in Barangay Baganihan, Davao City, Ana Ansulog has not been registered with the local civil registrar. The absence of such document has hindered many Matigsalug children from pursuing higher education. Photo taken March 17, 2019. MindaNews photo by H. MARCOS C. MORDENO

However, the same DepEd order states that in the absence of a PSA birth certificate, “the parent or guardian must submit a Birth Certificate (late registration) from the local civil registrar or a barangay certification containing the basic information of a child” such as complete name, name of parents, date of birth and sex.

“Submission of the learner’s Birth Certificate from the PSA or the local civil registrar, or barangay certification shall only be done once during the duration of the child’s basic education,” the order adds.

Required by gov’t programs, too

Aside from enrollment, assistance-oriented government programs also require birth certificates. These include membership in PhilHealth and the conditional cash transfer scheme called Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

4Ps in particular requires birth certificates for all household members.

A Matigsalug child sells nito vine bracelets in Barangay Baganihan, Davao City on Sunday (March 17, 2019). Many Matigsalugs in this barangay have not been registered with the local civil registrar. MindaNews photo by H. MARCOS C. MORDENO

There are government programs however that don’t require birth certificates. For example, the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis only requires a certificate of indigency from the barangay and any valid ID for clients needing prescription medicines without which they may die.

The program has a fund of P1 billion sourced from the Office of the President.

Aside from Davao City, the Matigsalugs also inhabit parts of southern Bukidnon province, notably the upland areas of Kitaotao town. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)

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