The Commission on Population and Development – (POPCOM) Region III urges all local government units to consider barangay population density classification based on results of its Demographic Vulnerability (DV) assessment showing highest averages of COVID-19 cases and deaths among medium density barangays in Central Luzon.

Results of the Demographic Vulnerability assessment showed that using COVID-19 reports from September 2020 to April 15, 2021, while most cases (84.20%) and deaths (67.43%) are found in low density barangays which have 1-100 persons per hectare, barangays classified to be of medium density (101-200 persons per hectare) had the highest averages when it comes to cases and deaths per barangay, with 8,714 cases in 140 barangays (or 62 cases per barangay) and 176 deaths in 77 barangays (or 2.29 deaths per barangay). 

According to POPCOM III Regional Director Lourdes P. Nacionales, “it is very important to know the socio-economic profile and characteristics of the people from these areas classified as vulnerable based on the assessment”. This is critical in order to create/implement proper COVID-19 mitigation measures that will help to address the issues of virus transmission pro-actively.

Director Nacionales also added that “the DV assessment findings may also aid LGUs in prevention or control of the pandemic and other emergency situations as this tool could also help local decision-makers in coming up with proper interventions and mitigation strategies appropriate in their situation.”

Based on urban/rural classification, most cases and infections are found in Central Luzon’s urban barangays with 68.10% or 46,792 of the 68,707 regional cases, and 61.83% or 912 of the total 1,475 deaths. Of the 2,612 barangays identified to have infections, 63.36% (1,655/2,612) rural barangays are identified to have COVID-19 infections, while 68.80% (463/673) urban barangays are identified to have COVID-19 deaths. Highest average in cases among rural barangays is observed among those with high density classification (12 infections per barangay); highest average in deaths among rural barangays is seen with those having medium density classification (1.40 per barangay). Highest average among urban barangays in infections and deaths are both seen among those with medium density classification (86.96 cases per barangay; 16.20 deaths per barangay).

Hence, POPCOM III strongly suggests the need for local government units to look into locally available data to update the DV Assessment tool through utilization of existing local data mechanisms to validate the findings particularly on demographics as well as COVID-19 cases and deaths if available. Such data-gathering mechanisms like the local migration information system, registry of barangay inhabitants and migrants, or demographic surveillance implemented by local population offices may be of use in updating the necessary data. Geographical mapping is also suggested for LGUs to help identify particular barangays regarding density classification and COVID-19 transmission for local planning purposes.

POPCOM III also reiterates the need to revisit how minimum health and safety protocols are practiced most particularly in urban barangays as they have the most number of infections and deaths. Access to vaccination and hospital care may also be revisited most especially in medium-density urban barangays and high-density rural barangays which reported high averages of cases, as well as urban and rural barangays with medium density classification which reported the most number of averages of deaths. 

POPCOM III also encourages LGUs to ensure the availability of relevant demographic data particularly at the barangay level for future reference in the occurrence of similar situations. Local government units are also encouraged to update demographic and population issues as POPCOM’s assessment also points out the necessity for data-gathering and analysis for proper planning in times of emergency.

Data analysis was conducted using the results of the 2015 Census of Population and Housing as the basis for generation of estimation projections for the 2021 population of each province, city, municipality, and barangay. Barangay-level information on Covid-19 cases on the other hand from September 2020 to April 15, 2021 were obtained from the DOH Data Drop. Data on the land area in square kilometers provided to POPCOM Regional Offices by the Technical Services and Mapping Division of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Presentations and statistical analysis are limited to Demographics only.

Limitations of the analysis include the absence of certain data: 214 barangays (6.90%) do not have the necessary data on land area which resulted to 1,570 cases and 27 deaths unclassified in terms of density; 155 infections and 5 deaths were not classified by province but were reported to occur in the region; 14.84% of 68,707 (10,195) cases and 21.08% (311/1,475) deaths were not identified by barangay.

A copy of the Demographic Vulnerabilities analysis report and regional database are found in https://rpo3.popcom.gov.ph or http://bit.ly/DVTRegion3.

Press Release No.PR-2021-05Release Date:May 31, 2020