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In Cordillera, small population translates to small budget for services

/ 12:16 AM October 10, 2016

BAGUIO CITY—With 1.72 million residents, the provinces of the Cordillera remain the least populated in the country, and that’s bad news for small communities that need a bigger public service budget.

A small population remains the big stumbling block to higher government allocations, said Aldrin Federico Bahit Jr., Cordillera chief of the statistical operations and coordination division of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

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As of 2015, the country’s population had grown to 100 million. The Cordillera population grew by 100,000 from 1.6 million in 2010.

Ideally, a small population implies that more resources would be distributed equitably among people, Bahit said. But he said the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) has been “bargaining for funds [because legislators and budget officials] always look at population.”

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“So when we see line agency budgets, their allocations [for CAR] are usually commensurate to the number of people to be served. That’s the disadvantage of a small population,” he said.

The latest census shows there are 87 people for every square kilometer in Cordillera, compared to the 19,988 people for the same area in Metro Manila.

Interior towns in Abra province are the least populated in the region. Daguioman town has 2,088 residents while neighboring Bucloc town has a population of 2,501.

These numbers mean the small towns are entitled to smaller shares from national taxes collected in a year, under the government’s internal revenue allotment (IRA) program.

“CAR local governments rely heavily on the IRA as their main sources of revenue. However, CAR receives the least share across regions with only over 3 percent of IRA released over the years,” according to the 2011-2016 Cordillera Regional Development Plan (CRDP). —VINCENT CABREZA

FOR POPULATION TABLE

CORDILLERA POPULATION

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Abra–241,160

Benguet–446,224

Baguio City–345,366

Ifugao–202,802

Kalinga–212,680

Mt. Province–154,590

Apayao–119,184

SOURCE: PHILIPPINE STATISTICS AUTHORITY

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TAGS: Baguio, budget, Cordillera, Population, public service, Services
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