April 17, 2012 · Posted in: General
IN THE LAST TWO WEEKS, Manila’s newspapers have been peppered with stories of Palace officials expressing apprehension over reports that the population data and the voters list for both Maguindanao province and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) appear to be badly bloated.
In the March 28 edition of BusinessWorld, the newspaper reported that the Commission on Elections was already poised to nullify the voter’s list for ARMM because of the apparent discrepancies.
On that same day, GMANews.TV, the online news website of GMA Network, reported that the National Statistics Office found a discrepancy of at least a million in the population figures of ARMM between 2007 and 2010. NSO Administator Carmencita Ericta made the disclosure in a briefing she gave to President Benigno S. Aquino and his cabinet.
The Sunstar reported that as a result of the findings, the President has refused to certify the release of the 2010 national census of population until the irregularities are addressed.
The recent reports are interesting in that they echo the findings of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism in a story published as early as February 2010, or two years ago.
On Feb. 10 2010, PCIJ fellow Roel Landingin released the story Sharp spike in Maguindanao, ARMM population a big riddle, where he reported on the findings of a study by Cornell University fellow Florio Arguillas that showed very unusual trends in the population data of both Maguindanao and ARMM. The data appeared to show that Maguindanao and ARMM’s populations were growing at an alarming rate of more than twice the national average. Too, the population spike appeared to be occuring for voting-age residents only.
Interestingly, some demographers appeared hesitant to accept Arguillas’ findings of anomalies in the ARMM and Maguindanao population figures, even as NSO’s Ericta acknowledged to him in 2010 that the figures they have were problematic.
At the same time Landingin’s story was released to the mainstream newspapers and online sites, the PCIJ also released a video version to the broadcast media. Unfortunately, population stories did not appear to be sexy enough for some media agencies, as the print and video stories did not get major play in mainstream media.
At least, until it was already the Palace making the complaint.