THE population of Central Visayas could hit eight million this year, an increase of some 1.5 million since the last official census in 2007.

A National Statistics Office (NSO) official, interviewed on condition of anonymity, provided the projection.

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If this holds true, that means the region’s population will grow much faster than the projected national population growth rate of 1.95 percent annually from 2005 to 2010.

Central Visayas is already the fifth most populated region in the country, said Noel Rafols, NSO 7 public information officer.

Its population stood at 6.4 million as of August 2007, or about seven percent of the national figure (88.56 million).

The regions that are more densely populated than Central Visayas are Calabarzon (11,757,755); National Capital Region (11,566,325); Bulacan and Pampanga (9,709,177); and Panay and Negos Island (6,843,643).

Of the 6.4 million people in Central Visayas, Rafols said, more than four million are in Cebu.

As the region’s economic hub, Cebu is expected to take in a rising number of jobseekers from nearby provinces.

In 2006, NSO Administrator Carmelita Ericta had projected population growth at 1.95 percent from 2005 to 2010. She expected the national population to hit 94 million this year.

Rafols could not give the population projection for Central Visayas, but another NSO source said in separate interview that it could reach eight million in 2010.

The results from the 2007 census showed Cebu City has a total population of 799,762 persons. Its population grew by 1.48 percent annually from 2000-2007.

The number of households increased by 20.1 percent, from 147,600 in 2000 to 177,197 in 2007.

The NSO also reported that among the 80 barangays of Cebu City, Guadalupe is the most densely populated, accounting for six percent of the total population of the city.

(A plebiscite on the division of Guadalupe into two barangays is scheduled on March 13. See related story.)

The same NSO report said Mandaue City’s population stood at 318,577 as of August 2007—or some 58,800 persons more than its population in 2000.

Its most populated barangay is Subangdaku, with 6.7 percent of Mandaue City’s total population.

Rising

The population of Lapu-Lapu City grew by 4.20 percent annually for 2000-2007. As of August 2007, Lapu-Lapu City’s population stood at 292,530.

While the country’s population keeps rising faster than the economy’s growth rates, a presidential candidate said he continues to have mixed views on the Reproductive Health Bill.

Nicanor Perlas, who kicked off his national campaign in Cebu, said the bill, which is supposed to target population control, misses a crucial ingredient for it to be accepted by all sectors.

“What’s missing is the priority to stop economic injustice that is causing poverty in the country,” said Perlas.

He said the bill should focus on making information available and respect the rights and responsibilities of parents and couples.

Perlas revealed that though he opposes abortion and some methods of birth control, he agrees with ligation and vasectomy.

Sexual education, which the bill seeks to provide for students, should be optional and must depend on the situation, Perlas added.

He called for consultations and dialogue so the bill can be amended, with inputs from those who either support or oppose it. (EOB/JKV)