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Headlines Statistically Speaking


by Dr. Romulo A. Virola 1
Secretary General, NSCB

In the May 2010 elections, Pres. Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III ran on a platform of good governance. In a field of 9 candidates, the President got more than 42 % of the votes, higher than the combined votes of the next two ranking candidates. In contrast, in 1992, Pres. Ramos won with less than 24 %, beating 6 other candidates. In 1998, Pres. Estrada won with 39.9% in a field of 10, while in 2004, Pres. Arroyo won with 40%  in a field of 5. Many believe that the last presidential election was won on the issue of governance. Not surprisingly,  the first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of Pres. PNoy on 26 July reverberated with concerns over good governance. Rightly or wrongly, the SONA also became a forum for the fashionistas! Let us just hope that out of those gorgeous ternos, we will be able to craft meaningful pieces of legislation for the welfare of our kababayan. Isn’t it nice that many of our neophyte members of congress, including Cong. Manny Pacquiao went through executive coaching by the U.P. National College for Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) and the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP)?

It may not be conclusive evidence, but for those of us who continue to dream, the last elections showed signs that the Filipino electorate had learned to vote on issues, at least at the national level. The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) led by the energetic and fearless Malou Mangahas, which won the prestigious Agence France-Presse’s 2010 Kate Webb Award2 should be pleased. In preparation for the 2010 elections, PCIJ ran a series of seminars to engage and motivate journalists to put governance in the forefront of electoral issues with which voters must be challenged. The NSCB is honored to have been invited to contribute its statistics to this noble mission.

What about at the local level? Did our voters vote on issues as well? We still  do not know, but we can dream. Toward this end, we need statistics. We have to show statistics that give indications on the orientation of governance at the local level. Unfortunately, at this point when our government, like many governments in the developing world have not learned to recognize statistical information infrastructure  to be as critical to progress as roads and bridges and buildings, the data are way too insufficient to steer us towards evidence-based decision making. 

But there are some data. Statistically Speaking3 will once again use the Statement of Income and Expenditures (SIE) of the Bureau of Local Government Finance4 for the latest data  on  a number of variables thru which we can assess to some extent, the performance of local government units (LGUs). The SIE variables are defined in Appendix 1. We will look at income sources and expenditure patterns for 2007 and 2008, hopefully to answer a few questions. Are the LGUs earning enough? Are they too dependent on Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA)? Are they collecting enough revenues from taxes? Do they borrow to fund their development projects? Is there spatial imbalance/disparity in the resources and expenditures for local governance?

quoteAs we have emphasized in the past, if we hope  to be competitive with the knowledge-based economies of the Third Millennium, we have to give top priority to education. As it is, among our Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), MDG2 on education has the lowest probability5 of being achieved by 2015. And of course, we can only be economically productive if we are physically fit, if we are healthy. Two weeks ago, the NSCB released the 2005-2007 preliminary revised estimates from the Philippine National Health Expenditure Accounts6, which among other things, showed a deceleration in total  expenditures on health and an increasing share of out-of-pocket expenditures by households. No wonder then, that we also foresee problems meeting the MDG5 on improving  maternal health.  We must  therefore ask, how much do LGUs spend on education? On health? Is LGU spending on education commensurate with the priority that the sector is supposed to receive? Are the LGU expenditures on health, like the national total, decelerating?

quoteThis article of course carries the limitations of the BLGF publication, particularly on how the data are generated. The data are based on submissions by the Treasury Offices of the LGUs to the BLGF. Provincial level data are obtained directly from the publication and regional level data are the sum of municipal, city, and provincial data.

The variables considered in this article at the provincial, regional, and major island group levels are listed in Appendix 2.

So what do the statistics say?  


quote NCR, Region IV-A and Region III top the regions in terms of total income, income from local sources, per capita income from local sources, revenue from taxes, and per capita revenue from taxes. They are also tops in total expenditures, expenditures on education, culture & sports/manpower development, per capita expenditures on education, culture & sports/manpower development, expenditure on health, nutrition & population control, and the combined expenditures on education and health.  With some permutations in the rankings, they are also tops in total receipts from economic enterprises and total expenditure on economic services. (Tables 1 [PDF 15KB] and 2 [PDF 33KB])

In terms of Internal Revenue Allotment, Regions IV-A, III and VI are tops. (Tables 1 and 2)  

quote CAR generally ranks high in per capita computations. (Tables 1 and 2)  


 CAR, Caraga, Regions II and IV-B join NCR as tops in per capita income and per capita expenditure. CAR, Caraga, and Region IV-B are also tops in per capita internal revenue allotment.  (Tables 1 and 2)  

 Heaviest borrowers are NCR, Regions III and X. (Tables 1 and 2)  

In terms of savings, NCR, Regions VI, VII,  and III were among the top 5 in both 2007 and 2008. Region IV-A joined them at No. 2 in 2008, pushing Region I to 6th. (Tables 1 and 2)  

quoteOnly NCR draws more than 50% of its income from local sources, particularly from tax revenues. (Tables 3 [PDF 11KB] and 4 [PDF 20KB])

Regions IV-A and III join NCR as the top three regions with the biggest shares of total income generated  from local sources, mostly  from tax revenues. (Tables 3 and 4)

quoteRegions III, I, and X are the three regions with consistently the highest shares of total income generated by receipts from economic enterprises. (Tables 3 and 4)

 ARMM is the most heavily dependent on IRA where  93-94% of its funds come from. Region VIII and Caraga also consistently depend (at 84-86%) on the IRA for their funds. (Tables 3 and 4)

Not only do NCR, Regions IV-A and III spend the most, both total and per capita, in education, culture & sports/manpower development, they are also quotethe three regions which allocate the biggest shares of their income to education at 12-13%, 8-10%, and 5-6% , respectively. What should be  terribly worrisome however, is that based on MDG data compiled by the NSCB7,  both NCR and Region III have low probability of achieving the target on Indicator 2.2 ( proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach grade 6). Region IV-A has medium probability, and no region has high probability of success. Surely, it is time to walk the talk about education being a priority sector in our development agenda. (Tables 3 and 4)

  But while NCR, Regions IV-A and III spend the most on health, nutrition & population control, it is CAR and Region VIII that spend the biggest share of their income on health at 11-12% each. MDG data of the NSCB show that we have low probability of achieving the targets on Indicator 4.3 ( proportion of 1-year old children immunized against measles) and Indicator 5.1 ( maternal mortality ratio) . For Indicator 4.3, except for Region IV-A, all regions including NCR have low probability of achieving the target. For Indicator 5.1, the latest8 available data on maternal mortality rate (MMR) at the regional level   are for 19959.  It can be  noted that NCR, Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon have MMRs lower than the national rate while CAR and Eastern Visayas have MMRs higher than the national rate. Yes indeed, additional investments in health, additional investments in statistics are badly needed. (Tables 3 and 4)

Region IX, NCR and CAR have  consistently the highest savings rates at 19-20%, 18-22%, and 17-18%, respectively. It is interesting to note that among the regions,  NCR has the highest total income and the highest total expenditure, while CAR has the lowest total income and the lowest total expenditure. (Tables 3 and 4)



The top regions in each of the major island groups of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao for the different income and expenditure variables are shown in Tables  5 and 6. Tables  5 [PDF 14KB] and 6 [PDF 9KB].



quoteIn 2007, Bulacan and Cavite had the highest total income among the provinces. In 2008, they were overtaken by Palawan and Cebu. In 2008, P1.65 B of the Total Other shares from National Tax accruing to  the provinces went to Palawan. (Tables 7 [PDF 25KB] and 8 [PDF 15KB])

On a per capita basis, Batanes and Apayao had the highest total income. (Tables 7 and 8)

Bulacan and Cavite also have the highest income coming from local sources. Together with Batangas, Laguna and Rizal, they generated the quotehighest total tax revenues in 2007 and 2008. (Tables 7 and 8)

Tax revenue per capita is consistently highest in Bataan, Ifugao, Batangas and Cavite. Laguna in 2007 and Zambales in 2008 round up the top 5. Talking about tax payers and tax evaders… (Tables 7 and 8)

quoteRecipients of the consistently largest IRA are Negros Occidental, Bulacan, Pangasinan and Cebu. They are joined by Quezon in 2007 and Cavite in 2008.   (Tables 7 and 8)

Bulacan and Cavite are the only two provinces which consistently are among top provinces in terms of total income, total income from local sources, total tax revenue and total IRA. (Tables 7 and 8)

quoteConsistently tops in total expenditures are Bulacan, Cavite, Cebu and Negros Occidental. Laguna joined them in 2007 while Palawan joined in 2008. (Tables 7 and 8)

Biggest spenders on education, culture & sports/manpower development are Cavite, Batangas, Bulacan and Laguna. Quezon and Rizal joined them in 2007 and 2008, respectively. (Tables 7 and 8)

quoteOn the other hand, biggest spenders on health, nutrition & population control are Laguna, Quezon, and Negros Oriental. They were joined by Iloilo and Batangas, and by Bulacan and Cavite, in 2007 and 2008, respectively. (Tables 7 and 8)

As with the income variable, Bulacan and Cavite are consistently tops in total expenditures, expenditures on education and expenditures on health. (Tables 7 and 8)

Biggest savers are Pangasinan, Pampanga, Rizal, and Isabela. They were joined by Negros Occidental and Laguna in 2007 and 2008, respectively. (Tables 7 and 8)


Other findings:

  1. At the regional level, infant mortality rate correlates10 more highly with expenditure on health, nutrition & population control than with total expenditures; while the education-related variables like net enrolment rate, cohort survival rate, completion rate and simple literacy rate have higher correlations with total expenditures than with expenditures specific to education, culture and sports/manpower development. Also,  poverty incidence correlates highly with expenditure on health, nutrition & population control, total income, total expenditures and  per capita expenditure on education, culture and sports/manpower development. (Table 9 [PDF 16KB])

  2. However, at the provincial level, poverty incidence still correlates  highly with per capita expenditure on education, culture and sports/manpower development, total income and total expenditures but not so much with expenditure on health, nutrition & population control. (Table 10 [PDF 10KB])

  3. quote

    It therefore seems that poverty reduction strategies should be geared not only towards higher income but also towards higher expenditure levels. Yes, spend, spend, spend! But of course, on the right projects, and certainly not for the wrong pockets! And saving for the rainy days cannot be a vice. In fact, Pangasinan, Laguna, Rizal, Cebu, and Batangas which are among the top ten savers in 2008 are also among the top ten provinces in total income!

  4. Top borrowers were Bataan, Cavite, and Apayao in 2007 and Tarlac, Albay, and Compostela Valley in 2008.  Only 11 provinces in 2007 and 15 provinces in 2008 borrowed funds. Does this indicate that provincial governors have not learned to borrow for development? (Table 11 [PDF 8KB])


Transparency is of course an important ingredient of good governance. We remember visiting the provincial government of Batanes in 2005 under Gov. Vicente Gato  and were quite impressed with the listing of projects posted in a bulletin board at the Provincial Hall with information on the total project cost, status of implementation and other relevant statistics. We have also seen the DILG website under Sec. Robredo with information about the funds and projects of the department. Good signs, indeed.

Going back to health,   it may concern you to know that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System11, in 9 states in the U.S.A., more than 30% of the residents were self-reported to be  obese. In the case of the Philippines, the 7th  National Nutrition Survey (2008) of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute shows much lower obesity levels  at slightly more than 5 out of 100 adults, with overweight rates at less than 22 per 100 adults 12. Could this be due to our saluyot, malunggay or camote tops? Whatever, may you have more dopamine, norepinephrine, and oxytocin, the so-called love chemicals or cocktails of love!

Samantala, nakikisama tayo sa ating Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino sa pagbati sa lahat ng  Maligayang Pagdiriwang ng Buwan  ng Wikang Pambansa!


Reactions and views are welcome through email to the author at



1 Secretary General of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) and Chairman of the Statistical Research and Training Center (SRTC). He holds a Ph. D. in Statistics from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, U.S.A. and has taught mathematics and statistics at the University of the Philippines. He is also a past president of the Philippine Statistical Association. This article was co-written by Gerald Junne L. Clarino and  Priscille Villanueva,  Statistical Coordination Officers I of the NSCB. The authors thank Noel S. Nepomuceno, Jessamyn O. Encarnacion,  Candido J. Astrologo, Jr., Edwin U. Aragon, Albert A. Garcia, and Jeffrey Enrado for the assistance in the preparation of the article. The views expressed in the article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NSCB.

2The Kate Webb Award is given to local reporters or media organizations in the Asia Pacific who have produced exceptional work in dangerous or difficult circumstances, or have demonstrated moral or physical courage while reporting. PCIJ is the second winner of the annual prize.

3 We will present a paper on local governance during the 11th National Convention on Statistics to be held on 4-5 October 2010 at the EDSA Shang-ri-la Plaza in Mandaluyong City.

4 We are grateful to Executive Director  Ma. Presentacion R. Montesa  and  the BLGF for sharing the SIE data with users thru the BLGF website at .

5 See the NSCB website at

6The PNHA is being maintained by the NSCB with the strong collaboration of the Department of Health.  The 2005 to 2007 PNHA estimates can be accessed at the NSCB website at:

7See the NSCB website at

8 The NSCB Technical Committee on Population and Housing Statistics chaired by Dr. Mercedes B. Concepcion has recommended to the NSCB Executive Board a methodology developed by Prof. Josefina Cabigon of the UP Population Institute that can update the MMR estimates.

9 See NSCB

10 One limitation of  the correlation analysis is its use of different (but close) years due to data constraints.

11 Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 5, 2010, page A24.

12 Initial results of the 7th National Nutrition Survey: Philippines, 2008, FNRI.


Posted: 09 August 2010



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