MANILA – The proposal to grant incentives and livelihood assistance to Filipinos who want to return to their respective provinces after the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic is the ‘top priority” of the government, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel said the “Balik Probinsya” proposal of Senator Christopher Lawrence Go is now under discussion.
Roque said the government is finding ways and means to assist those who wish to return to their respective provinces subject to the quarantine requirements.
Quarantine measures are currently in place to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
Under the proposed Balik Probinsya program introduced by Go, Metro Manila residents who want to be relocated to their respective provinces after the Covid-19 outbreak will be provided free transportation and livelihood assistance.
The proposed relocation would begin once Covid-19 pandemic is over.
Roque said the government is looking for best ways, including long-term solutions, to address the challenges that Filipinos are facing amid the health crisis.
“But the long-term program will be threshed out. But that has now become a top priority. Huwag po kayong mag-alala (Do not worry). It’s forthcoming,” he said.
Go earlier said the Balik Probinsya program is a long-term plan that intends to help the public adapt to the “new normal” after the Covid-19 crisis.
Go said his proposal would address overpopulation, traffic congestion and pollution in Metro Manila.
He added that the government would also be able to prepare for future possible disease outbreaks, other crises and natural disasters once the relocation program is implemented.
In a televised public address on April 23, President Rodrigo Duterte said the Balik Probinsya program is a “good” proposal because it would give “hope” to Filipinos who are in Metro Manila but want to be relocated.
The 2015 census revealed that Metro Manila is home to 12.87 million Filipinos.
Around 5,446 Covid-19 infections have so far been recorded in Metro Manila, according to the data uploaded by the Department of Health on its official website. (PNA)