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Postponement of 2020 population census sought

CAGAYAN de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Tuesday urged the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) to postpone its 2020 population and housing census to January next year due to the raging coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic.

In Resolution No. 1186, Rodriguez said the PSA is preparing to launch the census and has already hired 113,364 data enumerators and 22,000 supervisors to visit homes.

“While the agency has given assurances that these personnel have been trained to follow strict health protocols like wearing masks and face shields and to keep a safe distance when interviewing residents for an estimated 15-30 minutes, there are still risks not only for the interviewees but interviewers and data enumerators as well,” said Rodriguez.

There will be face-to-face interviews “and the possibility of infection is still there,” he said.

Rodriguez conceded that the population survey results would guide development planning and policy making at the national and local levels, particularly in reducing poverty.

“But this period when we are battling a pandemic is not the most appropriate time to conduct the census. We are still getting daily positive cases in the thousands, though the Department of Health is reporting that the numbers are going down,” he said.

He added that doing the survey this year or while there is a health crisis is not worth the risk people and PSA workers would be exposed to.

The Mindanao lawmaker also criticized the PSA for coming out with a statement in the media warning people that refusal to participate in the census bears the punishment of one-year imprisonment and a fine of P100,000.

“Such threat amid the pandemic is uncalled for and inappropriate. What we need is, as far as practicable, fewer people in the streets and outside their homes to help contain the spread of COVID-19,” he stressed.

He pointed out that delaying the census for a few months or even until there is a vaccine against the new coronavirus would not adversely affect development planning and policy making by the national government and local government units.

“They can in the meantime rely on historical data with some adjustments,” he said.