In defense of the provincial NSO officer

 by Prof. Rolando O. Borrinaga
Hometown Naval Website

Information reaching us has it the provincial officer of the National Statistics Office (NSO) was recently called up to report to the governor’s office. There she was allegedly subjected to some scolding related to some negative official statistics for Biliran Province.

We have here another case of an official trying to harass the messenger for an unfavorable message.

In this regard, I would like to remind the governor that one of the reasons the province is getting some internationally-funded projects is its independently verifiable poverty statistics.

Before I considered myself officially tabooed from the Capitol grounds last year, my usual hangout was the Provincial Planning and Development Office. Like it or not, it is here that the earth-shaking projects for the province are conceptualized and formulated into proposals that would only need the signatures of the higher-ups. The PPDO atmosphere is so quiet and laid back it is easy to suspect nothing is cooking in there.

But I was always aware that it has an important nerve-center role. In contrast, I liken the movement of people in and around the governor’s office to the movement of ants on a bowl of sugar. The best thing they can do is bite, sometimes each other.

I have always advised the provincial planning and development officer to use only honest and independently verifiable statistics in their reports. And I can say he is doing a good job in this department. I occasionally check the statistics in the documents in the PPDO website, and I could say the key statistics in the provincial reports, in the main, are independently verifiable.

If there is a group of people that had habitually messed up, misread, misinterpreted the provincial statistics, and unwittingly shamed the province in publications, it is the local office of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA). You review the reports they had posted in and you would notice that they contain a lot of disinformation and distorted data.

Last year, they misrepresented the infant and maternal mortality statistics of the province in several reports. Yet nobody was called up and scolded by the governor for that snafu that was published in the national newspapers.

Obviously, the “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” principle is operating here.

There is really no sense for the governor to scold the NSO provincial officer. The NSO as an agency is only responsible for conceptualizing the research, designing the data-gathering instruments, gathering the sample data from respondents, and collating and analyzing the needed statistical indicators.

But it is another office that reports the findings. In this case, it is the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), through its official publications and website.

For example, I got the official statistics that Biliran Province had the highest crime rate per 100,000 population in Region VIII during the 2nd and 3rd quarters from the NSCB website, and not from any NSO website. A PIA report lied about the crime statistics for the 3rd quarter.

Anyway, the NSO and NSCB have different regional offices and officers in Tacloban. I hope the governor knows about this by now.

Still the question remains: how could he have committed such elementary mistake?

Related Article:
Value of peso posts lowest in September 2006 in Biliran province 

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