Government experts believe that the number of Filipinos reached 100 million last year, but the profile of the voters that elected President Benigno Aquino III in 2010 is expected to remain the same when they return to the polls in 2016.
Nearly half of the voting-age population then were not gainfully employed, many were high school graduates, most were married, and most were Catholic.
The last national census in 2010 placed the official population count at 92.3 million, with more than half or 55.7 million being 18 and older, and eligible to vote.
The Philippine Statistics Authority projects that the figure will reach 65.2 million in 2016, but former Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larazzabal said the electorate's 2010 profile would still be relevant in the coming elections.
“There is no significant bump in the curve. No sudden upsurge in employment or enrollment in schools,” Larazzabal told GMA News in a recent interview.
Political analyst Malou Tiquia said these figures show a voting-age population who would elect people promising them food on the table.
“These numbers paint the sad canvass of Filipino voters. A young pool only able to finish high school, married early and yet not gainfully employed point to a survival mode,” Tiquia said.
“Voter preference tends to become personal, that is, who can give a better future. Bigger issues are of no interest to such demographics, politics of the stomach is," she added.
Relative to the projected population next year, six in 10 Filipinos are potential voters.
The demographic characteristics of this pool of potential voters are not yet known as the PSA is set to conduct the next census in August this year.
But while the average age, educational attainment or occupation of next year’s voters are unknown, those of the voters who elected President Aquino in 2010 can be scrutinized.
Of the 55.7-million voting-age population in the last presidential elections, nine in 10 were registered voters.
Of the 50.9 million registered voters, three-fourths actually voted.
Of the 38.2 million who actually voted, 40 percent cast their votes for Aquino as President.
4 in 10 are not employed
Some 23.9 million or 43 percent of the 2010 voting-age population were “not gainfully employed,” which PSA defines as a person who “has no occupation because he/she is a student, housewife or retired from work.”
Manual workers—including laborers, farmers, and fishermen—comprised a total of 32 percent of voting-age Filipinos in 2010, equivalent to 17.6 million people.
Among manual workers, laborers, and unskilled workers composed the biggest chunk—14 percent or 7.6 million people.
Farmers, forestry workers, and fishermen took up 12 percent or equal to 6.7 million Filipinos eligible to vote in 2010.
Plant and machine operators and assemblers made up 6 percent or 3.3 million.
Trade workers, managers/government officials and services/sales workers each took up around 5 percent, each equivalent to around 2.7 million people of voting age in 2010.
Professionals and clerks each comprised 3 percent or 1.7 million voting-age Filipinos in 2010.
Tiquia said that given this profile, the economy and jobs will be the top issues for voters.
“When a plurality is not gainfully employed, it means that at the macro level, the economy is an important variable that influence voting preference; and jobs as well as opportunities are defining issues for 2016. Such themes are reflective in the behavior of Class D and E which constitute almost 60 percent of the voting population,” she said.
4 in 10 are high-school graduates
Of Filipinos 18 years and older in 2010, some 20.8 million were high-school graduates.
Those with elementary education followed, making up 27.19 percent or 15 million Filipinos of voting age in 2010.
Some 8.14 million or 14.66 percent were college degree holders while 13.21 percent or 7.34 million were college undergraduates.
There were 1.22 million voting-age Filipinos who were not able to complete any grade level.
The 'millennial vote'
Ateneo School of Government Dean Antonio La Viña said the voting-age population comprise “very clearly a youth vote.”
“Millennials,” those born between 1980 and the early 2000s, will comprise a big chunk of voters in 2016 if the 2010 census data will be the jumping-off point.
“Millennial” voters will be 18 to 36 years old by 2016.
The Philippine population pyramid has a base indicating a bigger young population that gradually tapers to the older age groups.
Based on the 2010 census age cluster, 14.2 million of Filipinos who were eligible to vote in 2010 were aged 25 to 34 years old.
The youngest eligible voters—aged 18 to 24—made up almost 22 percent of the voting-age population in 2010.
Combined, these age groups were 47 percent of the voting-age pool, equivalent to 26.4 million people, in the last presidential elections.
“Ang pinaka-importante dito ay iyong youth vote, very clearly it is a youth vote.... Half of our voters are millennials. This means they are connected to the internet, they can be persuaded to be idealistic if they find a candidate that can inspire them,” La Viña said.
But Comelec Commissioner Luie Tito Guia believes the youth have adopted the “pervasive cynicism” toward elections and the government.
“The youth used to evince the hope that elections will produce better leaders. The assumption is that they will not succumb to vote buying,” de Guia said.
“The problem now, however, is that the youth, as a sector, seems to be apathetic and will not likely have deep involvement in the advocacy of social and political reform and good governance,” he added.
Adults aged 35 to 44 had the third biggest share of the 2010 voting-age population at 11.5 million. Middle-aged Filipinos number 8.6 million. There were 9.2 million early retirees and senior citizens among voting-age Filipinos in 2010.
8 in 10 are Catholics
Some 45.3 million Filipinos or 82 percent of the 2010 voting-age population belonged to the Roman Catholic Church.
Some 2.6 million or 5 percent of Filipinos eligible to vote in 2010 were Muslims.
The Iglesia ni Cristo and the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches each had around 1.4 million members of voting age in 2010.
Tiquia said the big percentage of Catholics among voting-age Filipinos is irrelevant because there is no “Catholic vote.”
“If it were, candidates with questionable or compromised backgrounds would not have seen the light of day in the country. The fact that dynasties rule in some areas and old political names make it at the national level in a Catholic country does not speak well of the religious influence and religious nurturing that tend to be the basis of voter preference. It is oxymoronic at best,” Tiquia said.
La Viña said Catholics do not vote as a group unlike the bloc-voting Iglesia ni Cristo.
“The ones that matter for religion (is) INC. (They have) 1.3 million. Makikita mo, INC matters in a close election,” he said.
The Catholic voting population includes such Catholic charismatic groups as El Shaddai, which claims to have 8 million members.
El Shaddai did not endorse candidates for president and vice president in the 2010 elections. In the 2013 elections, the group endorsed six "pro-life" senatorial candidates who had voted against the Reproductive Health Law. Five made it to the Top 12.
INC endorsed President Aquino for President and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas for vice president in the 2010 polls. In 2013, INC reportedly chose to support seven Team PNoy and five United Nationalist Alliance candidates. Ten out of the 12 won.
Another politicized religious group, Jesus is Lord Movement of Brother Eddie Villanueva, had 124,000 members based on the 2010 census. Claiming the support of millions of JIL members, Villanueva ran for president in 2010 but lost. He also lost in the 2013 senatorial elections.
La Viña said JIL obviously does not vote as a bloc.
“The total votes of Eddie Villanueva do not even equal what their block is supposed to be,” he said.
La Viña said Muslims are important, too, because they are clustered in a region. The Bangsamoro Basic Law, now undergoing deliberations in Congress, is a deciding factor among Muslims.
“Having a candidate who’s anti-BBL might lose some Muslim votes but not necessarily gain votes of others in the presidential elections. Kapag senatorial, iba na. I think Muslims tend to vote against those who are deemed to be anti-Muslim,” La Viña said.
Half male, half female
Taken as a whole, the voting-age population in 2010 is almost evenly divided in terms of gender.
By age clusters, however, there are more eligible male voters in the younger age groups 18 to 24, 25 to 34, 35 to 44 and 45 to 54.
Females control the age groups 55 years old and above.
The biggest disparity in the male-female ratio is in the 65 and up age group: 58 percent of this cluster is female.