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Illegitimate kids: single mothers to furnish proof

By Criselda E. Diala and Mary Nammour / 12 July 2007

DUBAI — Filipinos who had “undocumented” children born in the UAE would have to face the grim task of establishing their offsprings’ identity before the Philippine Consulate General (PCG) can issue any travel document.

Philippine consul Vicente Vivencio Bandillo told Khaleej Times that the PCG had recently received a number of cases concerning children with alleged Filipino parentage but whose official documents have not been secured. These children were mostly born out of wedlock.

Valid evidence

“Based on our experience, there are two types of children born out of wedlock — those who were born in the hospitals and those born at home. Children born in the hospitals are actually better off because they have the birth certificates to prove their identity and parentage. But for those who have no official papers, those claiming to be their parents have to show valid evidence of the children’s identity,” said Bandillo.

The consular official added that this measure had been taken to safeguard the welfare of the children who may become victims to civil and criminal offences like kidnapping, smuggling or identity theft.

Affidavits

“We have to be very strict in issuing travel documents to children. We cannot just accept a person’s statement that he or she is the parent of the child,” he said.

In the absence of a birth certificate, Bandillo said, parents would have to produce other documents like “affidavits of disinterested people” or notarised statements of people who have actually witnessed the birth of the child.

Other “scraps of evidence” may be photographs or medical bills. So far, the consulate has not required DNA test results as proof of a child’s biological relationship with his/her “parents”.

Bandillo added that the cases of undocumented children had been one of their prime concerns, particularly since Filipinos claiming to be these children’s parents would want to avail of the UAE government’s on-going amnesty programme. He failed to mention, though, the exact number of cases brought to their attention.

“Parents have sought our assistance because they wanted to go back home with their children. Technically, however, they might not qualify for the amnesty because having children out of the confines of marriage is a criminal offence in this country and punishable under the UAE laws,” he explained.

Meanwhile, when asked whether women who had committed such acts were eligible to benefit from the amnesty, Brigadier Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, director of the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD), said, “before we address that issue, let us first stress on the fact that a woman who gives birth to a child out of wedlock bears some responsibilities.

To face charges

“She must have given birth in some place other than the hospital where there is no doctor or any other medical assistance. Hence, she has endangered her life and that of her baby’s. Who is to be held accountable if one of them dies? That is one of the charges that she will have to face.”

Brig Al Marri further noted that “having a baby from an act of adultery is an offence in the UAE, which will be another charge against her. On the other hand, how can we be sure that she is the baby’s mother?”

Long procedure

The DNRD chief added: “It is a long procedure that will have to be taken by the police before we could even address such an issue. It is true that the amnesty is open for those who have breached the residency and entry permits law. But in the case of single mothers, there is a criminal aspect to the matter and it is within the police’s jurisdiction to decide what to do”.
 
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