Gov’t population census starts nationwide
Cebu, Philippines – Personnel from the National Statistics Office will start knocking on doors on Wednesday to collect data on the Philippine population.
The census aims to provide the government with information on the country’s citizenry, which would help it form long-term plans.
In Central Visayas, 2,679 enumerators will be fielded throughout the region’s four provinces. These enumerators will visit each household not just to determine the number of people living in it, but also collect data on each citizen’s properties and occupation.
The last nationwide census was conducted in 2000.
Lilia Tandoc, regional director of the National Statistics Office in Central Visayas (NSO-7), said the public is encouraged to cooperate with the enumerators so that correct information may be relayed to the government as a basis for future projects and programs.
Noel Rafols, Public Information Officer of NSO-7 said that a census is not just used for government statistics, but may also be used by businesses and industries, as well as academic and research institutions.
Tandoc assured that information collected from residents would not be used against them as stated under Commonwealth Act 591, which protects the respondents of a census.
However, those who refuse to cooperate in the census or those who knowingly provide wrong information could be fined P600 or imprisoned for not more than three months, or both.
Tandoc said that in Cebu Province, the population is expected to have risen from 2.38 million in 2000 to 3.95 million this year or a rise of about 1.57 million.
Bohol Province, Tandoc said, is projected have an increase of around 100,000 from 1.1 million in 2000 to 1.2 million this year.
Negros Oriental’s population will have risen from 1.13 million to 1.26 million, while Siquijor would go up from 21,150 to 89,000.
Regionwide, the population increase should be around 1.8 million, from the 5.7 million from 2000 to a present population of around 7.5 million.
Rosita Lagunda, a statistician with NSO’s central office who is in Cebu to help with the Central Visayas census, said this year’s census was originally scheduled for 2005, but was postponed due to budget constraints.
“Hopefully, we could have another census by 2010, depending on the budget,” Lagunda said.
She said 40,000 enumerators would be deployed throughout the country.
The 2000 census pegged the population of the Philippines at 76,504,077.
Lagunda said the country’s population is expected to be at least 86 million today.
According to the NSO officials, the government uses census information as a basis for creating programs, the creation of district, the upgrading of local government units, and for proper distribution of resources.
Business and industries, on the other hand, use census information to know where to establish certain kinds of enterprises, and to identify a number of potential employees in an area.
Academic and research institutions also use the census as a basis for studies.
GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) fact-finding team led by Chairman Benjamin Abalos, Sr. obtained on Wednesday copies of the municipal certificates of canvass from Maguindanao that could lead to a vote recount in the province.
But it would still be a heart stopping week-long wait for Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri who are battling it out for the 12th senatorial slot. The Comelec en banc would decide next week whether to reconstitute a special provincial board of canvassers to re-tabulate the controversial Maguindanao votes.
“We will submit our report, maybe this afternoon. It’s a very simple report. By Tuesday at best, we would have resolved the issue on whether we would reconstitute the PBoC,” Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos, Sr. said in a press conference here.
“Hopefully, we meet the June 30 deadline,” Abalos said, referring to the day when the terms of office of 12 senators would expire and the newly elected 12 would take their oath.
Lawyers of the Genuine Opposition and TEAM Unity tangled over the authenticity of the MCoCs, which showed zero votes for several senatorial candidates, just like the one reflected on the controversial provincial certificate of canvass brought by provincial election supervisor, Lintang Bedol, to Manila last month.
Abalos said the Comelec “was satisfied that we found something.”
“As to their authenticity, it will be the PBoC which would determine this, not us,” Abalos said referring to the Comelec en banc.
Abalos and Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, who heads Task Force Maguindanao, presided over the hearing.
Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, who is in-charge of the region, was supposed to join the task force but decided at the last minute to proceed to Lanao del Sur where special elections were being held.
Submitted to Abalos and Ferrer were MCoCs from 21 of the 22 towns of Maguindanao Wednesday afternoon.
Only the election officer from Maguindanao’s South Upi was not able to attend Wednesday’s hearing because the official was assigned to North Cotabato.
Abalos and Ferrer brought the ballot box containing the MCoCs to Manila Wednesday afternoon.
The two witnessed the placing of these documents inside the ballot box and then signed the seals.
The election officers were apparently tense and anxious as they waited for Abalos and Ferrer to begin the hearing at around 10 am.
Police with long firearms stood guard outside the function hall near the hotel where the hearing was held while a handful of Zubiri’s supporters rallied across the street as early as 8:30 am, urging the Comelec to count the Maguindanao votes.
“Respect the Muslim votes!” and “No to disenfranchisement!” their placards read.
“The purpose of our coming here is simply a fact-finding mission to determine if the documents to be given to us are authentic on their face or if these are material for the purpose of the Comelec en banc in deciding the issue of the Maguindanao elections with respect to the national candidates, namely for senators and partylist,” Ferrer said as the hearing began.
One by one, the election officers were called, and they handed their municipal CoCs and the statements of votes.
Most of the municipal CoCs submitted to Abalos and Ferrer were second copies of the MCoCs from their respective towns. The second copies were the ones supposedly posted outside the election precincts following the municipal canvassing.
Abalos and Ferrer inspected the documents, then placed them on a long, narrow table to allow the GO and TU lawyers, including those of Zubiri’s, as well as the media to view the CoCs.
Leila de Lima, counsel for senator-elect Alan Peter Cayetano, looked irked after seeing the documents.
“The results are still statistically improbable. There are still zero votes. Those documents were newly manufactured. This is revolting,” de Lima told reporters after inspecting the documents.
Over the weekend, GO chief lawyer, Sixto Brillantes, warned the Comelec about manufactured election documents.
De Lima said she noticed that the printed names in the municipal CoCs were in the same handwriting.
She explained that she expected the election officers to submit the fourth copy of the CoC, which were supposed to be the document officially in their possession as the chairman of each municipal board of canvassers.
The first copies were the ones lost by Bedol, de Lima said, while the third copy was suppposed to be turned over to the Comelec.
“The Comelec said they were looking for documents in the possession of the election officers. It should have been the fourth copy,” de Lima said, stressing that this would be the way to guarantee that the documents were authentic.
De Lima said she asked the election officers where the fourth copies were. “Their faces were blank and they looked scared,” she said.
Election officers told reporters Bedol asked them to turn over the fourth copy of the CoCs to him last May 28 for safekeeping.
The following day, the documents got “stolen” as reported by Bedol to the Comelec.
But election officers Maceda Abu and Estelita Orbase insisted that the second copies of the municipal CoCs were authentic.
“That’s the genuine copy,” Abu, who is assigned in Datu Piang, said. Orbase of Shariff Aguak said elections did take place in Maguindanao, contrary to allegations that none took place.
“I even saw the mayor voting,” Orbase said.
TEAM Unity’s Romulo Macalintal saw no problem with the second copy of the CoC being presented to the Comelec fact finding mission.
“These are authentic documents, I am sure. Of course, they (opposition) will say that these are not authentic because the results are not in their favor,” Macalintal told reporters in Filipino.
Zubiri would win over Pimentel by a little over 17,000 votes if the Maguindanao results were tabulated.
In a phone interview, Zubiri told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that considering 21 of the 22 municipal CoCs were “delivered” on Wednesday to the Comelec, “it is a sign that democracy is alive and well in Maguindanao.”
“I hope that this would put closure to the 12th spot in the senatorial race and the votes would be added to my score,” he said.
Nonetheless, Zubiri added he would accept whatever would be decided on the Maguindanao votes.
“I’m not desperate for the post like other candidates,” he said.
Zubiri added that if the Maguindanao provincial CoC would be excluded, he would “respect the decision of the Comelec” and would take a “long break from politics.”
For his part, Pimentel on Tuesday told the Inquirer he was not dispatching his lawyers to General Santos, saying he “was not recognizing the proceedings” here.
Pimentel said that he would file on Thursday his petition asking the Supreme Court to prohibit the Comelec from canvassing the figures the poll body found in the source documents submitted to the fact finding team.
BAGUIO CITY – Capitalizing on the “Igorot vote” in Baguio City, the gateway to the Cordillera, opposition candidates focused on issues over land and a more dispersed urban development—both close to the hearts of Igorot and non-Igorot people alike.
But the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) vote and a well-oiled machinery of administration candidates waylaid, if not shattered, the Igorot vote that opposition candidates were banking on.
“There is definitely an Igorot vote in Baguio but the Iglesia [ni Cristo] factor did us in,” said losing congressional candidate Jose Molintas, whose main voting base is the Ibaloi vote.
The INC practices bloc voting. Its leaders choose and endorse a lineup of candidates whom members must vote for.
Although Molintas’ opponent, reelectionist Rep. Mauricio Domogan, is another Igorot, who traces his roots to Mt. Province and the Bago tribe, the “Iglesia factor” worked to his advantage, said political observers.
Before the May 14 elections, Molintas was leading in surveys and mock elections in the city. But the exercises apparently failed to factor in the Iglesia vote, which was made known shortly before election.
How big really is the Iglesia vote? There is no actual data. But if its endorsed party-list group, Buhay, is the gauge, then it has more or less 7,000 solid votes in Baguio City.
Save for three aspiring councilors, all candidates in the other electoral positions —from mayor and vice mayor down, whom the Iglesia endorsed—won handily.
But another church vote to watch out for is emerging—the vote from the fast-growing evangelical and renewal or charismatic church groups.
Neophyte Isabelo Cosalan Jr., who was part of the opposition, landed ninth in the city council race even if the Iglesia did not endorse him. An Ibaloi and a geodetic engineer, Cosalan has an Ibaloi vote as base.
Cosalan is also an associate pastor of the Good News Community Fellowship, an evangelical group that has ecumenical relations with other church denominations. “The vote from my church and from its ecumenical allies definitely boosted my chance,” he said.
The United Opposition’s candidates in Baguio campaigned hard against issues such as alleged questionable multimillion-peso contracts and pushed for a dispersed urban development that would not only decongest the city of more than 350,000 people but would also benefit neighboring towns in Benguet.
But Igorot opposition candidates led by Molintas and vice mayoral candidate Faustino Olowan found out what machinery could do.
“We may have won the battle, but not the counting. Still, we are confident that we earned the electorate’s principled vote,” said Olowan, who lost by a slim margin of 1,283 votes to Daniel Fariñas, the running mate of winning mayoral candidate, Reinaldo Bautista Jr.
Olowan and Molintas said they had only 200 volunteer watchers compared to the reported 2,500 paid watchers of the camp of Domogan and former Baguio mayor and representative, Bernardo Vergara, both of Lakas.
Machinery, however, failed to boost the chances of Vergara in the mayoral race.
Since it could not field poll watchers in all the more than 800 precincts in the city, the United Opposition was not entitled to a copy of the certificate of canvass for the party’s own quick count.
“Part of machinery is being able to employ enough poll watchers, aside from being able to provide lunch and donate certain items to the barangays (villages) and giving out insurance to teachers who count ballots,” said Olowan.inquirer.net
A team from poll watchdog Kontra Daya which monitored the special elections held recently in 13 Lanao del Sur towns Tuesday exposed alleged irregularities and manipulations committed during the canvassing of votes in Marawi City.
In one amusing incident, several tally sheets that the six-member team led by Emmie de Jesus were looking for turned up as table cloth in one precinct in Lumbayanage town.
Kontra Daya said that in precinct number 0010-A, the counting area in one of the classrooms in Amai Pak Pak Central Elementary School Marawi where votes for Barangay Kadigilan, Lumbayanage town in Lanao del Sur province were being counted, the ballots did not contain votes for senators.
“With this predicament, the boards of election inspectors (BEIs) and poll watchers decided to place the tally sheets for national positions at the back of the classroom. Later, the tally sheets were used as table cloth,” De Jesus said in a statement from Marawi.
De Jesus, who is also secretary-general of the women’s group Gabriela, said this was also a “cause of alarm” as the empty tally sheets “might be used to pad votes for TU candidates who are trailing in the senatorial race.”
“This practice, whether deliberate or not, is very susceptible to machinations by the Commission on Elections and other parties in interest,” she said.
In some precincts, the BEIs deliberately did not read votes cast for some senatorial candidates, she said.
In other precincts, where BEIs read the votes for senators, tally sheets showed that Genuine Opposition candidates Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero, Aquilino Pimentel III and Antonio Trillanes IV were leading the senatorial race.
The only Team Unity candidate who got as many votes as the GO candidates was Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram.
De Jesus said their team also observed numerous irregularities in the conduct of the special polls in the province.
In Masiu town, an hour ride from Marawi, De Jesus said they talked to people who have just voted but whose index fingernails were not marked with indelible ink.
When asked why they did not have their nails inked, the voters casually told the Kontra Daya members, “Para makaboto uli kami (So that we can vote again).”
There was also unreasonable and unexplained delay in the counting of votes in public schools in Marawi City despite the presence of the BEIs and the poll watchers. In several counting areas, poll watchers were unreasonably barred from entering, De Jesus added.