While the Philippines has a relatively high overall birth registration rate of 90 percent, this is in significant contrast to the situation in some rural communities and conflict zones where levels of birth registration can be as low as 40 percent. Moreover, four specific groups remain at risk of statelessness because of a lack of birth registration. First, foundlings because there is no safeguard in the law to grant them nationality and currently they only receive a certificate with their name and name of the person who found them, which does not reflect citizenship. Second, children of Filipino migrants living in the Middle East and Sabah who face difficulties to prove their connection to the Philippines. Third, persons of Indonesian descent who lost Indonesian nationality for failing to comply with a requirement to express their interest to retain Indonesian citizenship after living abroad for five consecutive years. Finally, the Sama–Badjao indigenous population who face a number of issues due to their nomadic lifestyles and generations of non-registration of birth.
In 2011, the Philippines became the only country in Southeast Asia to accede to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and pledged to accede to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. In addition, the Department of Justice has issued a Circular providing for the current statelessness determination procedures and the Government has developed a 10-year National Action Plan to end statelessness, building on existing good practices and strong collaboration among different actors over a number of years.
An officer from the Bureau of Immigration and students during an activity for the registration of persons of Indonesian descent in Davao City, Southern Philippines. ©UNHCR/Gina Maramag
1.Improving birth registration to prevent statelessness.
Goal 1: Obtain baseline information on registration of children among vulnerable groups.
Goal 2: Increase registration of children from 5% to 25% in areas where population at risk of statelessness reside.
2. 2. Promoting law reform, and its implementation, to ensure safeguards in nationality laws to prevent statelessness amongst children.
Goal 1: By 2021, the Philippines adopts legislation to implement the ruling from the Supreme Court, through which foundlings are presumed to be natural born citizens.
Goal 2: By 2023, the Philippines accedes to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
Goal 3: By the end of 2024, the Philippines enacts a domestic law on the citizenship of foundlings.