THE GOVERNMENT should postpone its population and housing census this year to prevent potential coronavirus transmissions, according to a congressman.

While the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) surveys are needed for planning, conducting the census now could expose the agency’s staff and family members that they talk to, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said in a statement on Tuesday.

“We are still getting daily positive cases in the thousands, though the Department of Health (DoH) is reporting that the numbers are going down,” he said. “There will be face-to-face interviews and the possibility of infection is still there.”

The census began on Sept. 1 and will end on Sept. 30.

Mr. Rodriguez also slammed the PSA for saying that people who refuse to participate in the census could be jailed for a year or fined P100,000.

“Such a threat amid the pandemic is uncalled for and inappropriate,” he said. “What we need is, as far as practicable, fewer people on the streets and outside their homes to help contain the spread of COVID-19.”

Florante Varona, officer-in-charge of the National Censuses Services, earlier told DZBB radio the law requires citizens to answer government surveys.

Mr. Rodriguez said delaying the census for a few months or until a coronavirus vaccine is found would not affect planning and policy making. “They can in the meantime rely on historical data with some adjustments,” he said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza