MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday pledged its support to the proposal to relocate from Metro Manila those who are from other provinces once the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic is over.
In a statement, PNP chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa, said a well-planned ‘Balik Probinsya’ program to decongest Metro Manila is a welcome proposal to avert public health crises in the future.
Gamboa said the PNP will mobilize all resources and personnel to assist urban dwellers who may wish to be relocated to their home provinces under the proposal of Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.
He added that the decongestion of densely populated urban megacities is the key to managing any emerging public health emergency in the same magnitude as the Covid-19 pandemic and that “urban decongestion will also register favorably on other socio-economic indicators”.
“Although the program needs a lot of planning and preparations, its eventual implementation will breathe new life to the metropolis and introduce development to the rural areas,” he said.
Gamboa said this will afford equal opportunities to all local governments regardless of location and introduce the growth of local trades that support larger industrial production.
“Relocating people to an environment where they can be more productive is like teaching them how to catch fish instead of just giving them fish,” Gamboa said.
President Rodrigo Duterte over the weekend expressed support for Go’s proposal that seeks to decongest the National Capital Region once the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic is put under control.
The proposed Balik Probinsya program aims to provide incentives and livelihood opportunities to Filipinos who wish to return to their respective provinces after the lifting of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
He noted that the lack of urban planning and rural development is one of the reasons why Covid-19 is spreading fast in the country’s metropolis.
Under the program, the government would provide free transportation and livelihood assistance to Metro Manila residents who want to be relocated to their respective provinces.
The planned relocation would start after Duterte lifts the implementation of the ECQ in Metro Manila and other areas with confirmed Covid-19 cases.
Based on a 2015 census, Metro Manila is home to 12.87 million Filipinos. About 4,877 confirmed Covid-19 infections have been recorded in Metro Manila, according to the April 24 data uploaded on the official website of the Department of Health.
Go, chairperson of the Senate health and demography panel noted that 70 percent of Covid-19 cases in the country are in Metro Manila and said overpopulation, congested traffic, and pollution in Metro Manila would be addressed, once his proposed relocation program is implemented.
He added that the government would also be able to prepare for future possible disease outbreaks, other crises, and natural disasters. Go saw the need for proper planning to ensure the effective implementation of the program.
He said the government, in coordination with the private sector, must take the necessary steps for the country to be able to adapt to the “new normal” after the Covid-19 crisis.
The Department of Trade and Industry has vowed to provide incentives for businesses that would open in the provinces to attract countryside investments.
Financial assistance and affordable loans would also be provided to those who seek to open MSMEs in the provinces. (PNA)