Mindanao 2013: richest region is vote-richest

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/03 May) –  The richest region in Mindanao has the most number of registered voters while the poorest region has the least number of voters.

According to data from the Commission on Elections’ Election and Barangay Affairs Department, Region 11 or the Davao region (also known as Southeastern Mindanao), which posted the lowest poverty incidence among six regions in Mindanao, has 2,660,156 registered voters, the highest number out of Mindanao’s 11,999,081.

The “First Semester Per Capita Poverty Threshold and Poverty Incidence among Families, by Region and Province: 2006, 2009 and 2012″ of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) shows that the region posted 28.6% poverty incidence in 2012, against the national average of 22.3%.

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which has 1,300,479 voters — the lowest number of voters among the six Mindanao regions – is the country’s poorest region, posting a poverty incidence of 46.9% in 2012.

The NSCB study showed that 29 out of 100 families in Region 11 are poor while 47 out of 100 families in the ARMM are poor.

Mindanao’s 11.99 million registered voters represent 23.07% of the country’s 52,014,648 voters.

Southern Mindanao comprises the provinces of Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley and the cities of Davao, Tagum, Samal, Panabo, Digos and Mati.

Northern Mindanao has the second highest number of registered voters in Mindanao, at 2,458,123. The region comprises Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental and Misamis Oriental and the cities of Malaybalay, Valencia, Iligan, Ozamiz, Oroquieta, Tangub, Gingoog,  El Salvador and Cagayan de Oro.

Northern Mindanao’s poverty incidence as of 2012 was 35.6%.

Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao (also referred to as Soccsksargen) has 1,985,062 voters. The region comprises South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato and the cities of Koronadal, General Santos, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

But the Comelec record treats Cotabato and Isabela cities separate from the regions, owing to their unique situations.

Cotabato City, which is contiguous with Maguindanao, has been the “provisional seat” of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao since 1990 but is not a member of the ARMM. Its voting population is 105,975.

Isabela City is located in the ARMM province of Basilan. But it  voted against inclusion in the ARMM in the 2001 plebiscite. It is supposed to be included in Region 9 but the Comelec lists it separately. It has a voting population of 63,130.

Region 12 has a poverty incidence of 37.5%.  Cotabato City’s poverty incidence in 2012 was 41.5% while Isabela’s was 19.4%.

Region 9 or the Zamboanga region  (also refered to as Western Mindanao), has 1,981,427 voters. It is composed of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay and the cities of Zamboanga, Dapitan, Dipolog and Pagadian.

Its poverty incidence is 36.9% as of 2012.

Region 13 or Caraga, which comprises Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur and the cities of Bayugan, Butuan, Cabadbaran, Surigao, Bislig and Tandag,  has 1,445,729 voters.

Caraga was the poorest region among 17 regions nationwide in the NSCB’s poverty incidence study in 2006 and 2009. Its poverty incidence in those years was a steady 43.3%.

In 2012, Caraga’s poverty incidence dropped to 34.1%. From the “country’s poorest,” it is now sixth poorest.

The ARMM, whose member-provinces are Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao, is now the country’s poorest region, at 46.9%

The region was second poorest region after Caraga in 2006 and 2009.

The ARMM now has 1,300,479 voters, down by about 200,000 from the earlier listing. The region’s book of voters was nullified and a re-registration was ordered last year to purge the region of its alleged “ghost voters” or  underage voters.

The ARMM was referred to in past elections as the country’s “cheating capital.”

It served as “reservoir” or “vote bank” for  candidates in national polls — for Senator, Vice President, President and party list representative —  who wanted to win or wanted to improve their ranking. (Carolyn O. Arguillas)