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Revilla optimistic GMA will sign bill
amending Family Code this month

March 09, 2004

MANILA (PNA) - Senator Ramon Revilla is optimistic President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will sign into law this month Senate Bill 2510 which seeks to amend Article 176 of the Family Code.

As the lawmaker proposed, passage of this bill into law will allow children born out of wedlock to use their fathers' surnames if these male parents consent to such and if the biological mothers allow their offspring to use their fathers' names.

"This will spare illegitimate children from the stigma associated with their status," Revilla said, explaining that provisions of the proposed legislation he authored aims to protect the subjects from being treated as social outcasts.

The existing Family Code requires children born out of wedlock to use the surnames of their mothers.

The Code also prohibits illegitimate children from adapting the surnames of their fathers under any circumstance.

"These provisions are contrary to Section 12 Article 1 of the 1987 Constitution which declares that as a policy, the State shall protect the life of the unborn from the time of its conception," Revilla reasoned.

Considering this constitutional mandate, the lawmaker continued, it becomes the responsibility of the State to shield illegitimate children from unwarranted discrimination and shame.

In a study, the National Statistics Office noted that the current provision of the Family Code regarding such use of parents' surnames is one reason why parents often do not promptly register the birth of their illegitimate children.

Data from the agency for 2000 revealed that the birth of over five million Filipinos nationwide are unregistered.

On the other hand, the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey of 1999 showed that three out of 10 children below 5 years old including those who were not registered due to their illegitimate status do not have birth certificates.

NSO Administrator Carmelita Ericta observed that such practice of not registering illegitimate children eventually leads to falsification of their birth records.

Ericta said that registration of birth is important since this represents the first official acknowledgement of the State that a child exists.

"Unregistered children will be deprived of the means to secure their rights to identification following war, abandonment and abduction," the administrator noted, emphasizing the importance of birth registration.

Similarly, unregistered individuals have limited access to benefits and services of government, she stressed.

On a national level, proper documentation of birth helps to strengthen government efforts to plan for children, Ericta said.

In filing the bill, Revilla noted that government must provide illegitimate children with an environment that will enable them to lead normal lives and that will help them understand that despite their status, they can still become productive citizens.



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