My wife is getting ready to apply for a Philippine passport and the required supporting documents are, in the best Filipino tradition, onerous and confusing. The Constitution grants citizens the right to travel, without equivocation, so I don't quite understand the barriers established that get in the way of this Constitutional right.
If you have a legitimate birth certificate, you are a citizen, and you should be authorized to travel. Okay, great, include a photo ID that proves you look in person like the photos you submit. Reasonable.
But if you have a foreign sounding name (Mrs. Juanita dela Cruz America), you have to submit additional documents, including the marriage certificate of parents. Umm . . . She is way into adulthood, what do her parents have to do with anything? And as the wife of a foreigner, you are required to take a four-hour course that explains the dangers of visiting Disneyland in Hong Kong, and other travails.
Now, the Constitution doesn't say that you can't be stupid and visit Afghanistan if you want, and it doesn't say you have to have a Filipino sounding name. Like isn't dela Cruz foreign, being Spanish? So what's with the bizarre documentation requirement? It doesn't say you can't marry a foreigner, although it does suggest that if you go abroad and get foreign citizenship, you are a security threat to the Philippines.
To me, this is the inside-out thinking of a blindly authoritarian government trapped in the minutia of process and unable to raise its head above the mass of paper demanded to see the tragic comedy of the hoops it makes its citizens jump through. Christ, what a fine sentence that is.
As I said, bizarre. I finally figured out the REAL reason for the class that wives of foreigners have to take. I calculated out the number of classes, number of attendees, and multiplied it by the fees and days of the year and figure the government is making about P 30 million on this deal. It is a tax, extorted at no small price, considering the P 700 fee and a required trip to Manila or Cebu. I'd say government knows how to spot a moneyed foreigner as well as the little beggar kids with their hands out.
Evidently, no one in any power in an agency of the government has the keen vision to see, um, this is: (1) not providing good service to our citizens, (2) violating the SPIRIT of the Constitution which considers Filipinos to be free and responsible, and (3) reflects a gross inferiority psychosis on the part of the government, for its people. The citizens are not trusted to find out where they are traveling and what they are getting into on their own; government has to spoon feed them as if they went from diapers to passport.
But I didn't really bring this up to spend a blog griping. My wife will dot her I's and cross her t's, I'll let her deal with it so I don't go insane, we'll both mutter the appropriate obscenities, and she will do what has to be done.
What I really wanted to comment on is the last few lines of the requirements page that say, if you are Muslim convert, you also have special documentation requirements, including:
- Shari'ah Court Order
This is all very weird to me. First of all, freedom to practice one's faith should not come with strings attached. Second of all, I can't come to grips with Muslim communities having a different set of laws and different courts than the rest of us.
Now if you belong to a strict church, okay, submit yourself to the church requirements. Stop drinking coffee, don't eat pig, yank your daughter from school, kneel when you pray, drink the wine and have some bread. Knock yourself out. But if you step out on a public street, obey Philippine laws. Don't go stoning your wife there. Or even back in your house, now that I think about it. Philippine law supersedes church law.
And don't go nailing your buddy to a plank of wood. If he can't do it himself, tough tittie.
Good God, fireworks are illegal. Why not torture, even if done voluntarily to oneself, in public? A permanently damaged, blood splattered hand is gross and painful if blown to bits or punctured with nails in the name of some kind of perverse dedication to God. What's next, tossing virgins into a volcano?
Laws reflect the values of the land, the rights and responsibilities. How can there be two sets? Civility is civility. There are not two of them. Decency is decency.
If there are two, there should be an unlimited number, one for each personal choice, and we should be hyenas.