MANILA – Seeing decongestion as key to preventing a second wave of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infection in the nation’s capital, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday expressed support for an administration senator’s bid to relocate residents of Metro Manila back to their province of origin through the ‘Balik Probinsiya’ program once the crisis is over.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said Covid-19, being a highly contagious disease, spreads extensively in urbanized areas.
He said Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go’s ‘Balik Probinsiya’ program can be one of the long term solutions to congestion in Metro Manila.
Año said it is evident that the National Capital Region (NCR), as a densely populated area, is the hardest-hit region of the Philippines due to its ballooning number of citizens with a population density of 20,785 persons per square kilometer based on the 2015 census.
“Malaki ang populasyon ng Metro Manila kaya napapanahon at sang-ayon kami sa magandang mungkahi ni Senator Go (Metro Manila has a big population so this is timely and we agree with the good proposal of Senator Go). The proposed decongestion of Metro Manila is a timely measure at kailangan po natin to (and we need this),” he adds.
Go’s ‘Balik Probinsiya’ proposal asks the national government to incentivize, through the provision of livelihood opportunities and financial aid, the relocation of Filipinos from NCR to the provinces after the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is lifted.
Año said if the proposal materializes, local government units (LGUs) nationwide, with the aid of the national government, must prepare to address the relocation needs of the people going back to the provinces.
He encouraged LGUs to prepare for the possibility of returning residents from Metro Manila in their area of responsibility by placing measures that will ensure that returning residents will be given due assistance.
“Kung mangyayari ito, hinihikayat natin ang mga LGU na as early as now ay mag-isip na ng mga hakbang para matugunan ang pagdating ng mga kababayan nilang magsisi-uwian mula sa (If this happens, we encourage LGUs as early as now to come with measures to deal with the influx of our fellow Filipinos who will return from) Metro Manila,” he said.
The proposal, if approved, is set to be implemented only when the Covid-19 crisis is over.
“This is a good initiative but is still in need of specific guidelines before it can be rolled out. Hindi din naman ito isasalang ng pamahalaan kung hindi kumpleto ang provision at detalye lalo pa at malaki ang potensyal nito na makatutulong sa ating mga kababayan (The government cannot just implement it without complete provision and details especially that it has a big potential of helping our fellow Filipinos),” Año explained.
He said Go’s proposal will put an end to recurring problems such as worsening traffic, uneven development, poor sanitation, poor health care, and overpopulation in urban areas.
“We will be able to address other issues, other than the Covid-19, kapag ito ay ating naisakatuparan. Mga problema ding matagal ng nagpapahirap sa ating bansa (once we implement this. These include age-old problems our country have been experiencing),” he said. (PR)