Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

DAVAO CITY – The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) has been tasked to build the first rural resettlement model as Malacañang prepares the draft of an executive order which would establish the “Balik Probinsya, Balik Pag-asa” program.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said during an online conference with Senator Christopher Lawrence Go which was presided by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, all departments were instructed to initially utilize their available funds to implement the first phase of the rural resettlement program.

“During the Zoom meeting, I presented MinDA’s earlier proposal contained in a memorandum that informal and jobless urban slum dwellers should (be) prioritized in the acceptance of the applications. Exec. Sec. Medialdea emphasized that the ‘Balik Probinsya’ Program should essentially be a ‘Return to Home Province’ where the applicants have relatives,” he said.

He added that Medialdea tasked MinDA to establish the first model resettlement communities to provide a template for succeeding batches.

Piñol pointed out that MinDA has earlier presented three activities where the first batch of “Balik Probinsya” participants could be involved.

These are tree farming in public lands with livestock and poultry raising as immediate livelihood component; fish cage farming in the coastal areas of Mindanao; and vegetable farming, poultry raising and livestock raising in a community-based activity with complete value chain.

“In the ‘Balik Probinsya’ concept submitted by MinDA to Sen. Go, ‘Balik Probinsya’ participants should be clustered based on their livelihood project preference and grouped in a Kibbutz-style where the community undertakes a common production activity. MinDA next week will submit a list of provinces willing to take back their former constituents in the rural reintegration program,” he added.

As to the tasking, he added that National Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr., presented a matrix on the general concept of the “Balik Probinsya” program, citing that those interested could apply online or coordinate with the local government units where they are in now.

“The NHA will prepare a housing package for the “Balik Probinsya, Balik Pag-asa” program which will be part of the incentives for the participants,” he said.

Piñol said Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said his department will issue a memorandum to advise the local chief executives of the urban areas where the “Balik” applicants will be coming from on how to handle interested families.

“Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Agriculture Secretary William Dar and Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez committed support from their departments for livelihood projects for the ‘Balik’ participants,” he added.

On the other hand, Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones and Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said their departments will provide a listing of all available government lands for possible resettlements.

Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director General Isidro Lapeña said his agency will provide training packages for the “Balik Probinsya” beneficiaries. (ia/PNA)

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