Cebu City, Philippines - In the next five months, the public cannot secure copies of birth, marriage and death certificates from the National Statistics Office (NSO) in Cebu City.
Instead, they must go to NSO offices located in two towns and four cities in Cebu province that are authorized to issue these civil registry certificates, but the processing will take a little longer and the processing fees, a few pesos more.
This is because the NSO has decided to suspend, effective on Monday, the processing of these certificates at the NSO Central Visayas (NSO-7) office located along M.J. Cuenvo Avenue in Cebu City.
NSO regional director Lelia Tandoc said their civil registration system (CRS), which is tasked to process these civil registry documents, were ordered closed effective July 16 by the NSO central office to facilitate the transfer of the NSO-7 office to the government center in Sudlon, Barangay Lahug.
?We expect to resume issuing such certificates in December 2007,? Tandoc told Cebu Daily News on Sunday.
Tandoc, however, clarified that NSO-7 office in M.J. Cuenco would still be open to the public as it would still be releasing the certificates of those who had already filed for the document until last Friday.
She said her office failed to notify the public about the suspension of these services because she only received the order from NSO Administrator and Registrar General Carmelita Ericta on Friday afternoon.
As of 4 p.m. on Sunday, the NSO-7 office still had not posted any announcement about the suspension of the issuance of authenticated civil registry documents ? the certificates of birth, marriage, no marriage and death.
With the closure of the NSO-7 office, Tandoc advised the public to instead secure their civil registry certificates from any of these six local government units (LGUs).
These are the cities of Talisay and Carcar and the town of Argao and Dalaguete in the south and the cities of Danao and Bogo in the north.
Tandoc said only the NSO offices in these six local government units (LGUs) have the Batch Request Entry System (Breqs), a scheme wherein the NSO authorizes an LGU partner to accept requests from the public for NSO-issued copies and certifications of civil registry documents and to release the requested document in security paper (Secpa).
Thus, for those residing in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, the nearest place that they could get their needed certificate is Talisay City, she said.
Hundreds of people, most of whom were planning or about to work abroad, would queue everyday outside the NSO office to secure the certificate they would need to complete their work papers.
Noel Rafols, spokesperson of NSO-7, said some of these people would even come to their office as early as 3 a.m. to make sure that they would be first in line.
He said that some would come from the neighboring provinces, such as Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor.
Many of those from neighboring towns and provinces wanted to get their needed certificates at NSO-7 because it is located in Cebu City where other national offices are also located.
For example, Rafols said those who want to secure birth certificates for their passports find it convenient to do so in Cebu City because it is close to the office of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Also, he added, those who will be taking board examinations that require the presentation of a birth certificate find it easier to get the document from NSO-7 since the Professional Regulation Commission is also within the city.
Tandoc apologized to the public for the inconvenience. She said that they were just aiming to improve their services.
She, however, said there was no exact date yet for the transfer of their office to Sudlon as negotiations were still ongoing for NSO to rent the two-story building presently used by the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO).
She said Ericta decided to relocate the NSO-7 to a bigger office after NSO officials from Manila, who were in Cebu last week, saw that the people who wanted to get the civil registry documents were lining up in the street.
She said the transfer also aims to eradicate or minimize the presence of fixers.
Tandoc said that in their present rented office in MJ Cuenco, fixers could easily victimize those who wanted to get documents, particularly those who could no longer bear the heat of the sun after queuing for a long time on the street outside the NSO office.
She said that the LGUs that have Breqs could also benefit from the temporary closure of their CRS.
According to Rafols, the LGUs with Breqs could get an additional income as they could add up to P50 for every certificate that they issue.
A birth certificate costs P125 if it is secured from the NSO but an LGUs can charge P175 for the same document, Rafols said.
Those who are securing the ?no marriage? certificate, a requirement for the issuance of a marriage license, the cost is P180 at the NSO. At the LGU, the document costs P230, he added.
It usually takes three to four days to process the requested documents at NSO-7 but for an LGU, the time frame usually takes one week, he said.
The requested documents accepted by the LGU through Breqs will be processed through the Breqs receiving outlet, which is temporarily located at the regional office here of the National Economic Development Authority (Neda), Rafols said.
Rafols, however, said that the public has an easier option to get their needed civil registry documents via the NSO Helpline Plus.
Under this program, a person who wants to get a copy of a marriage, no marriage, birth or death certificate would just dial the number (02) 737-1111, where he is immediately attended by an operator. The requested documents will be sent through express mail.
Payment will be coursed through all Union Bank outlets.
Rafols said a copy of the civil registry document can also be requested through Internet (e-census.gov.ph). The payment will also be coursed through Union Bank and the document sent trough express mail.