THE Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reiterated the importance of “truthful” participation in the agency’s census and survey initiatives, reasoning that results affect socio-eonomic planning and policies of the government.

In an interview with PSA 7 Public Information Officer Noel Rafols yesterday for the 26th National Statistics Month Celebration in October, the official said the agency is pressed with some setbacks that hinder them from obtaining vital information.

“Trust issues,” he said, is one concern.

Specifically, Rafols cited the difficulty in gaining information from affluent families residing in exclusive villages in Cebu.

PSA is currently conducting a census of population for year 2015. The last population census was conducted in 2010.

“Dunay mga nagpuyo sa mga exclusive villages nga maglisod ang (PSA) enumerators og sulod kay heavily guarded kaayo, ug naa pa gyuy mga high-powered firearms (The PSA enumerators have difficulty reaching those who live in exclusive subdivisions because these are heavily guarded and some security guards even have high-powered firearms,” Rafols told reporters.

Others, he said, are also wary in giving out census information, thinking that their privacy would be compromised.

He assured, however, that the information obtained by PSA enumerators will be exclusive to PSA’s use alone, citing the confidentiality clause of Republic Act 10625 or the Philippine Statiscal Act of 2013.

“Any person, including parties within the PSA Board and the PSA, who breach the confidentiality of information, whether by carelessness, improper behavior, behavior with malicious intent, and use of confidential information for profit, are considered guilty of an offense and shall be liable to fines as prescribed by the PSA Board which shall not be less than P5,000 nor more than P10,000 and/or imprisonment of three months but not to exceed one year, subject to the degree of breach of information,” the law reads.

To ensure households that they are dealing with PSA enumerators, Rafols said they can check their PSA identification cards. Enumerators, he said, are also wearing shirts with census logos.

Enumerators ask information about names of the household members, their age, employment status, educational attainment, business or economic activities, as well as water and electricity sources, among others.

Rafols said PSA 7 has recently received a report that there is one company in Cebu that has been using the name of PSA to obtain personal information. The agency, he said, will have to verify this report.

In addition, the information officer also warned politicians against approaching enumerators to include questions about their preferences among candidates running for office, saying there have been cases where politicians, especially last year, asked enumerators to add such questions in their survey.

PSA enumerators, he said, were also told to never entertain such offers.

“This is a national project. This is not politics. This is for everyone,” Rafols stressed.

In Cebu alone, there are 6,000 PSA enumerators. For every 300 to 500 population, one enumerator is tasked to do the census.

By December 2015, Rafols said President Benigno Aquino III will announce the total population of the Philippines.

The last census recorded a total population of 92 million based on the 2010 Census of Population and Housing. The result was made official with the signing by President Aquino of Proclamation No. 362 in March 30, 2012.

Cebu, in 2010, had a population of 2.6 million but this excluded the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu, said Rafols.