Inquirer Headlines: Nation

A World with Extreme Poverty is a World of Insecurity.

Friday, July 27, 2007

NSO to conduct census starting Aug. 1


By Jonathan L. Mayuga
Correspondent/Business Mirror


THE National Statistics Office (NSO) will conduct the 2007 Census of Population starting on August 1.

At least 37,000 census-takers will conduct the nationwide survey to interview household individuals to make a complete count of the population.

The nationwide survey is the 12th to be undertaken since 1903. The NSO is the sole government agency mandated by Commonwealth Act 591 to undertake such nationwide population count.

The census will cover all people living in the Philippines, including overseas Filipino workers and foreigners who intend to stay within one year.

Underscoring the importance of an updated information on the size of population in development planning, Romulo Neri, director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), appealed for the public’s full cooperation.

“From the rural areas of Batanes to the remote barangays of Jolo, no one should be left out. Stand up and be counted,” Neri said during the press launch of the 2007 Census of Population at the SulĂ´ Hotel on Thursday

The last census, the 2000 Census of Population, revealed that there are 76.5 million people living in the Philippines. It was from this figure that the NSO was able to project the current population in the Philippines of 88.7 million, at a projected population growth rate of 2.36 percent.

With this year’s census, NSO hopes to get an accurate information about the population in the Philippines and determine whether the growth rate is increasing or decreasing.

The current population growth rate, on a demographic point of view, is “unacceptable,” said Socorro Abejo, officer-in-charge of the Household Statistic Department of the NSO.

“The Philippines is what you call right now explosive population. Ideally, a country’s growth rate should be based on the capacity of the government to provide for the basic needs of the people. Our current growth rate is not acceptable,” she said.

NSO administrator Carmelita N. Ericta said the census, which was supposed to be conducted in 2005 but was shelved due to lack of budget, will take 40,000 NSO-trained census-takers and 7,800 team supervisors to cover 41,944 barangays in the Philippines.

The nationwide survey will last about 25 days and will be made available by end of February next year.

She said the NSO-trained census-takers, wearing official 2007 Census of Population IDs and T-shirts will visit and interview every household to ask basic information about the number of people living within the house, including their ages, sex, marital status, education and other demographic, social and economic characteristics. The interview will take about 15 to 30 minutes.

The government will spend P1.6 billion to conduct the survey.

The census will also cover institutional populations such as those living in hospitals, sanitaria, penitentiary, military camps, convents and seminaries.

Allaying fears that the census will be used for other purposes, such as conducting surveillance under the Human Security Act (HSA), Ericta said any information obtained during the census will be held strictly confidential, as per Section 4 of Commonwealth Act 591.

However, she also said that refusing to give information or providing false information to census-takers is punishable by law.

Under Section 3 of Commonwealth Act 591, upon conviction, a fine of not more than P600 or imprisonment for not more than three months or both will be meted to any person who unjustifiably refuses to furnish the information called for in the census questionnaire.

She said the 2007 Census of Population will provide current data on population counts, which will be the basis for the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) and the creation of new local government units (LGUs), or conversion of some of the existing LGUs to a higher level, pursuant to the provisions of the 1991 Local Government Code.

It aims to continuously address the specific data requirements of the national government agencies, like NEDA and LGUs, especially in targeting beneficiaries of basic social services.

Census of population is the complete count of all residents, both Filipinos, including overseas workers, and foreigners, who have stayed or are expected to stay for at least a year.

Among the important uses of such census for the government is the accurate and timely formulation of policies, preparation of plans and programs concerning population such as the number of schools to be built, the number of teachers, number of policemen to be deployed, and number of public health workers needed in a province, city or municipality and even barangay.

It will also help determine the number of congressional seats in a province, city or municipality based on the population.

Such census also aids the government in allocating resources and revenues, and help in planning the creation of political and administrative units.