Population and planning

>> Monday, November 7, 2016

By Gina Dizon 

Population increases. It does not decrease  unless there is mass death. And so with  increase of Philippine population  from 76.5 million in year  2000 to 101 million in 2015, expect  2017 population to go 103 million. 
This means need for more food, more school rooms, more health facilities, more vehicles, and more space where humans move around, establish shelter and source their livelihood. More space for officials and officers in government to plan how an increasing population is addressed with services whether a resident is bona fide or an informal settler.  
A recent forum here sponsored by the National Statistics Office –Mountain Province presented trends of the population  in the national, regional and province  level registered the highest in CARAGA region at 14.4 million  followed by  the National Capital Region at 12 .6 million and the lowest in the Cordillera  among the 14 regions at 1.72 million.  
The Cordillera increased population from 1.37 million in year 2000 to 1.6 in 2010 to 1.7 million in 2015 with the highest population growth rate in Benguet at 1.9% followed by  Baguio City at 1.54%. Obviously Benguet where  bustling La Trinidad is located is nearly a city by itself is the most populated  at 330 thousand  followed by Baguio City  at 252 thousand. In the same  manner that the highest populated place in Kalinga is Tabuk City and the most populated in Ifugao is Alfonso LIsta near the business district in Santiago, Isabela.
Republic  Act 1062 is clear on its mandate: to provide  government planners, policy makers and administrators with population data on which to base their  social and economic  development  plans and programs.  
Data particularly gathered by NSO are size and geographic distribution of the population, composition in term of age, sex and  marital status; religious affiliation; school attendance, literacy, highest grade completed, technical or vocational course  obtained; housing characteristics, agriculture, business, industry and other sectors of the  economy; occupation  of people, household level characteristics such as  those used for lighting, source of water supply for drinking or cooking. 
And for Executive Order 352 particularly calls for  census on housing characteristics in the barangay level including  presence of selected facilities, establishments, informal settlers, relocation areas and inmovers.
Other data needed is the number of women and children  abuse as noted by Provincial Social Welfare and Development (PSWD) Officer Rosalinda Belagan during  said population forum. And so with vulnerable data sites where  disaster can happen as  forwarded  by Edward Padcayan of the Provincial Disaster Risk and Management Council (PDRRMC). 
And with the number of drug surrenderees nowadays is there space for drug rehab centers, space for Special Education Centers (SPED), space for persons with disabilities (PWDs) with nearly 1500 cases of registered PWDs in the province and space for women in crisis centers.

Need for public space

This brings to a concern the need for equivalent space as population  expands and needs demand the space- commercial area, agricultural farms, government offices,  housing space, evacuation space, lots for social  facilities, school and training spaces, parks where children and  people come together and  talk and play and move around. And parking spaces to accommodate persons who buy cars and don’t have their personal garages and cars of  tourists who visit  tourist places. This while having sharp note on protective areas as watersheds not to be  invaded to ensure the much needed water supply of residents.    
Parking  happens anywhere even especially on public roads in the midst of people having their own cars without securing their own garages. And  in the midst of a growing tourism industry since the 1980s.
School rooms are needed with growing number of schoolchildren and  the community is in need of space to build public facilities.
Consider space for Materials Recovery Facilities  (MRF) when  economy grows. And so when make shift  MRFs  just sprout from anywhere one will come to the conclusion that  a proactive planning of where an MRF site shall be located  was not  a priority  of officers and officials in government until  ecologists shouts it’s  the call of the day. 
Mountain Province which opens and exits  road outlets to commercial towns in Santiago Isabela, and tourist towns of  Banaue Ifugao in the east and Ilocos in the west, and a Halsema Highway cut in the middle of the province to heavily populated Baguio City has the ;lowest  population growth rate in CAR and the lowest  population among the  six provinces. 
Nevertheless,  increasing population is noted highest  in the vegetable producing  town of  Bauko with its majestic mountains which pose potential for  eco-tourism, followed by  Paracelis  near  the bustling business area in Santiago Isabela.
Bontoc  the capital town of the Province since the early 1900s  up to now already  showed potentials of  getting heavily populated. It was a century ago in June 28, 1910 when the Philippine Commission under the American Government issued Resolution Number 29 delineating area and boundaries of the Bontoc townsite  of the provincial government. And so the  Capitol space,  barracks, hospital, and  jail section  were  identified of  where these shall be. The  Bontoc town site seemingly had  a plan of how  Bontoc shall look like. 
The presents reveals how public space is  slowly getting  depleted due to  infrastructure facilities  and residential houses built on the once spacious lot. Meantime the center of the town  utterly shows a demand for parking lots at the turn of the  21st century.

Tourism and parking spaces

Jerry Santos, NSO-Mountain Province  director wondered how Bontoc as the capital city should have foreseen the need for parking spaces.
In the tourist town of  Sagada, not only when  tourists boomed in the 1990s that the tourist-visited town  saw the need for parking spaces which let  the spacious Mission Compound  opened for parking and so too in  other private lots.
Not only Bontoc or Sagada is a potential tourist town but practically the 10 towns of the province  each with distinct attractions- hot springs in Bontoc, majestic mountains in Sadanga, astounding rolling hills in Paracelis, trekking trails in  Bauko and boating spots in Tadian apart from caves and waterfalls in Sagada, and cultural interests in Bontoc. 
With the Province a vast space for eco-tourism potential awaits  communities how they treat tourism in their own areas in the now and in the coming days. With Sagada serving as an example of how it welcomed backpack tourists in the 70s to 80s in their homes having eventually  expanded to a number of small inns to big inns and a few restos in the 90s to spaces for parking lots in the very recent years, other eco-tourist potential towns better start planning now how extensive or regulative their tourism be when  tourists come invading their very homes, backyards, and woodlots.
Comes now planning which is the direction of why there is  gathering of population  and data. Through CLUP or the Comprehensive Land  Use Plan lays down the plan of how community space is used- for residential, forest, watershed, agricultural,commercial lot and space for recreation.  

That is, with LGUs  limited public space as population increases, LGUs  need to invest money to buy  lots or let someone donate his or her land for public use. For alongside is the question on the readiness of LGUs to respond to demands of the times and the very near future to come. 


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