Over 50 million people moved to cities in 50 years

Over 50 million people have moved to cities in the Philippines in the last 50 years, and by 2050, over 65% of the country’s total population, or 102 million Filipinos, will reside in cities.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reports that the main destination for long-distance movers is Calabarzon Region, which absorbs 27.7% of migrants; followed by Metro Manila with 19.7%, and Central Luzon with 13%.

The information was derived from the Manual of Operations for the Establishment of RBIM Database System and the World Bank in 2017.

The World Bank warns that the high volume of migrants to cities has led to housing, infrastructure, and basic services becoming strained in major cities.

This has resulted in the proliferation of informal settlements, with the number of informal settlers in the Philippines increasing from 4.1% of the total urban population in 2003 to 5.4%. In 2012, 2.2 million people lived in informal settlements, of which 1.3 million were in the National Capital Region (NCR) alone.

The last National Migration Survey (NMS) in 2018 found that Filipinos are “highly mobile,” with 40% being lifetime migrants, and 57% having crossed regional boundaries. The survey also revealed that 55% of Filipinos ever migrated for three months or more, and 15% had migrated in the last five years.

Regarding interregional migration in the past five years, NCR and Calabarzon remained the most common destination regions but also registered the largest number of out-migrants in the same period.

The 2018 NMS highlighted that “major receiving and sending areas will experience changes in their population due to migration, resulting in ever-changing service requirements. For economically-driven migration, this will impact a receiving LGU’s ability to generate jobs and maintain a balance between the needs of the locals and the migrants.”

“Housing-related movements will put pressure on an LGU’s land-use and spatial planning to make sure that they can respond in both policy and programs to optimize the economic benefit of these movements and minimize their social cost,” the survey noted. “Receiving LGUs need to assess their absorptive capacity for in-migration.”

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) views migration as a “key driving force in development as well as in population change…With the expected fertility decrease in years to come, migration’s contribution to population change will become more pivotal than ever.”

The 2020 Sub-Committee On Internal Migration Virtual Meeting And Validation Workshop disclosed that there were “lower out-migration rates to municipalities with higher levels of rainfall (relative to the municipality of origin),” and that there were “higher migration rates to municipalities with higher number of consecutive dry days.”

The Population Commission (Popcom) also reported that “climate-sensitive infectious diseases caused by environmental factors like floods and storm surges would affect human-population health.”

Moving forward, Popcom Deputy Executive Director Lolito Tacardon confirmed that the HMCCC databases “will undergo further improvement for different population processes, including human mobility, which is the most difficult population metric to ascertain.”

Tacardon also highlighted the need for receiving LGUs to assess their absorptive capacity for in-migration and to optimize the economic benefit of these movements while minimizing their social cost.

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