Bill on ethnic origin surveys still moving

BAYAN Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño bill requiring the inclusion of ethnic origin data in national surveys has been approved with amendments by the House committee on national cultural communities.

As amended, House Bill 1460, titled The Ethnic Origin Act of 2010, mandates the National Statistics Office (NSO) as lead agency, in coordination with the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the National Commission on Muslim Filipino (NCMF), to gather data on indigenous peoples (IPs) using the national survey, census and other data-gathering methods.

“This will make us finally graduate from from rough and often inaccurate estimates of IP demographics leading to better delivery of appropriate and culturally-sensitive services to our IP brothers and sisters nationwide,” Casiño said.

In a hearing last September 22, the committee acknowledged that IP statistics are based on inaccurate and varied estimates of government offices and non-government organizations and international agencies.

“Our national statistics fail to reflect the situation of the IPs because data on them are hidden in national averages. Even to date, an accurate count of the IP population in the country is not available,” Casiño said.

He added that the “government estimates that there are 12 to 15 million indigenous people in the Philippines within the 110 ethnolinguistic groups in the country.”

“That is between 13-16 percent of our total population of more than 90 million. Having these estimated figures is untenable as we cannot even say how many exactly are our compatriot Igorots, Mangyans, Aetas, Tumandoks, Manobos, Muslim Filipinos, et cetera, in the country,” Casiño said.

The bill will mandate a government special survey to determine the actual population of IPs in the country, include ethnic origin in the regular censuses conducted by government every 5 and every 10 years, and ensure that ethnic origin is included in the other data-gathering methods of the NSO and NSCB.  D’Jay Lazaro

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