The immense significance of POPCEN 2015
There are two by-government-only functions that are highly essential for the proper implementation of the principle of representative government and for the efficient and fair distribution of public resources. One of these functions—the enactment of the GAA (General Appropriations Act) for 2015—is in the process of being performed. The performance of the other function, the national POPCEN (census of population) began on Aug. 10, 2015.
A census of population is usually a decennial affair, but POPCEN 2015 is a mid-decade count of the population of this country. It is being undertaken, pursuant to Republic Act No. 10625 (Philippine Statistical Act of 2013). POPCEN 2015’s main purpose is to update the national population count in compliance with Executive Order No. 352 (Designation of Statistical Activities That Will Generate Critical Data for the Decision-making of the Government and the Private Sector).
The choice of August for the conduct of POPCEN 2015 is in compliance with President Aquino’s Proclamation No. 1031 declaring August 2015 as National Census Month. For two weeks starting Aug. 10, around 90,000 enumerators or ENs will be fanning out to the 43,000 barangays seeking basic information from household members and ILQ (institutional living quarters) residents regarding their age, sex, highest educational attainment, usual activity/occupation and religious affiliation.
Those who are allergic to lengthy interviews and survey questioning are assured by the PSA (Philippine Statistics Authority), the agency primarily responsible for the conduct of POPCEN 2015, the National Statistician and the National Civil Registrar that every interview will take no more than 30 minutes. Undoubtedly, PSA has made provision for potential difficulties resulting from the multiplicity of languages.
The government is to be commended for conducting a national census five years, not ten years, after the holding of the last one. The present population of this country, very conservatively placed by PSA at 102 million is at a critical juncture. Given recent demographic trends, five years is a long time in the life of the national population, and five years can give—and almost certainly has given—rise to significant changes not only in the number of Filipinos but also, more importantly in their geographic distribution. UN demographic experts have predicted that the Philippines with a then-population of 180 million will be one of the world’s most populous countries by 2050.
From the political standpoint, getting an accurate picture of the distribution of the national population is of utmost importance. When populations shift, some parts of the country become under-represented in the legislature and others become over-represented. That is not good for the concept of representative governance.
Needless to say, government officials, especially those mandated to dispense public resources—the Department of Education, the Department of Health and the Department of Social Welfare and Development are cases in point—need to know the directions of population shifts so that they can adjust their budgets for school rooms, health centers and Conditional Cash Transfer facilities.
The private sector should be not one bit less interested in the conduct, and more importantly the results, of POPCEN 2015. Producers of goods and services need to know the changes that have taken place in the demographics of the Philippine population—such as where young and old consumers are residing in August 2015 and the changes that have taken place in their financial situations—so that appropriate adjustments can be made in production and marketing structures.
PNoy Aquino’s Proclamation called on the citizenry to “support and cooperate with POPCEN 2015 by providing complete and correct information to the ENs. PSA head Luisa Grace Bersales hopes that PNoy’s call will be heeded by everyone.
POPCEN 2015 is no ordinary government undertaking. Its significance for the social, economic and political lives of this country is immense. The public, the private sector should do everything to make it the best national census ever.
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