COTABATO CITY, Philippines—Local executives are up in arms against the results of a revalidation survey conducted by the National Statistics Office that shows the province has less people than what its officials had previously reported.
In 2007, NSO records showed that the province had a population of 1,273,715 but the revalidation survey conducted in the middle of 2010 showed that Maguindanao has a population of only 944,718 or a difference of 328,997.
Razulden Mangelen, Maguindanao NSO chief, said it took them almost two years to make the census result public because they wanted to make sure it was accurate.
Mangelen admitted that the revalidation was a sensitive issues and that local executives would not be happy over it as it would reduce their share of the national government’s tax collections.
“We were also surprised,” he said.
Shariff Aguak, the turf of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., was among the towns that saw a marked decrease in population figures after the revalidation. From its 2007 population of 70,340, the town now has an official population of only 35,964 or a decrease of 34,376 as a result of the 2010 revalidation.
Parang town, which had a population of 102,247 in 2007, now has 73,247 inhabitants.
An official of the NSO regional office for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, who asked for anonymity, said the 2007 figure might have been accurate because of inward migration. But then, he added, the population figures may have been deliberately manipulated.
“There could be other reasons, like increasing the population to also increase the Internal revenue Allotment (IRA) and for election purposes,” the official said in defending his manipulation theory.
Mayor Tocao Mastura of Sultan Kudarat town, which now has a smaller population, said the new NSO data would greatly affect public service.
Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu admitted with the reduced population, Maguindanao’s monthly IRA of P80 million would likely be reduced by as much as P30 million per month.
He said the revalidation results were justified because in the towns of Datu Hofer and Datu Unsay, both of which were created under the Ampatuan administration, the population was indeed bloated.
But Mangudadatu said he wanted the NSO to conduct a revalidation of its 2010 data because towns where the population was known to be increasing were shown to also have smaller populations.
“I want clarifications why some areas we know of to be really populated had decreased population in the 2010 census,” he said.
He cited as example Parang town, whose population had sharply decreased to 73,247 in 2010 from the 2007 figure of 102,247.
Commando Pilimpinas, NSO ARMM director, said the 2010 census has not yet been signed by President Aquino and is not “officially official yet.”
But he said he doubted if Aquino would grant the request of Maguindanao executives for another revalidation.
With a report from Charlie Señase, Inquirer Mindanao