NAT_181109 Filipino Legal Aid3
Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Pampanga Chapter's Attorney Angelo Lopez III speaks to the Filipino community in a legal aid seminar at the Philippine consulate-general. Photos by Janice Ponce de Leon Image Credit:

Dubai: Don’t let a clerical error in your identification documents literally cost you your dreams or your future.

Get them corrected right away especially before the Philippine national ID system gets rolled out soon, Filipinos were told on Friday.

In a free, legal-aid mission at the Philippine Consulate-General on Friday, a group of visiting lawyers from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Pampanga Chapter conducted a seminar for the community on the most common legal problems Filipinos encounter and how to address them.

The seminars were held for the first time in the Middle East, particularly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, by the volunteer lawyers following their successful legal aid missions in Hong Kong and Macau.

Attorney Angelo Lopez III, one of the speakers, said a “simple” error in one’s birth certificate must not be taken lightly.

He cited examples of Filipinos who have lost their chances to emigrate or accept a dream job offer abroad due to an error in the person’s personal documents.

“Clerical or typographical errors on birth certificates may appear to be simple. But if we neglect to correct it right away, it may hinder us from pursuing our dreams or our future especially in cases when we need to work or travel abroad,” Lopez told Gulf News.

“To avoid that, if you haven’t checked your documents now, do it now and have it corrected immediately and before you find the need to use it. Do it before the national ID system gets implemented,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte in August signed into law the National ID system. The first phase of registration for this new national ID begins in December.

Contrary to the misconception that correcting these errors will take “forever” in court, Lopez said some common errors could be corrected without having the need to go to court. These are clerical or typographical errors in the spelling of names, wrong birth day or birth month, and error in gender.

Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes agreed that clerical errors in documents are a “huge problem” among some Filipinos in Dubai especially for those with documents issued several decades ago when the registration process was not yet as stringent as now.

“If these documents have errors, it’s difficult to rectify. There’s a lot of issue concerning jobs, benefits and so forth,” Cortes said.

“That’s why when the 10-year Philippine passport was issued, we began getting more stringent in ensuring the information on the birth certificate is correct.”

Cortes said Filipinos who spot errors in their documents may request for a correction at the consulate that will then recommend correction based on the merits of the case to the civil registrar at the Philippine Statistics Authority in Manila for affirmation, negation, or disapproval. The whole process takes roughly one month, he said.

The lawyers also talked on other laws and topics concerning legal separation and annulment and inheritance.