MANILA – Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Friday said six provinces have already signified readiness for the pilot testing of the “Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa Program.”
Go said he was informed by National Housing Authority (NHA) general manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. and Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Manny Piñol that the provinces of Leyte, Zamboanga del Norte, Lanao del Norte, Bukidnon, North Cotabato, and Camarines Sur are ready to participate in the testing phase.
“Natutuwa ako na may mga provinces na po na nagsabing handa na para sa pilot testing. Nagpapasalamat ako sa mga gobernador ng mga probinsya sa paghanda ng kanilang mga lugar upang magtanggap ng kanilang mga kababayan na gusto nang umuwi. Ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno ay nakikipag-coordinate sa LGUs para malatag na ang mga protocols at proseso sa pagbalik nila,” he said.
(I am happy that there are provinces that said they are ready for the pilot testing. I thank the governors of these provinces for their preparations to receive their province mates who have expressed their willingness to return. Concerned government agencies are coordinating with the local government units to roll out the protocols and processes for their return.)
Go said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has already identified around 3,000 persons who met the basic criteria of the Balik Probinsya program (BPP).
The agency will also be assisting workers stranded in Metro Manila for their return to their home provinces.
The chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography said basic protocols, like necessary quarantine measures, coronavirus disease (Covid-19) testing and health certifications before the travel of these identified individuals and families, are being readied to ensure that their travel is safe and would not result in the spread of Covid-19.
“The DSWD will be doing a rapid assessment of these individuals as they make travel arrangements and provide transportation, transitory assistance packages as well as livelihood assistance upon their return to the region,” he said.
Besides the six provinces, Go said more provinces have expressed their interest in joining the pilot testing and were offering resources, such as land and organic farming to complement the BPP’s sustainable livelihood and housing components.
He also commended other concerned national agencies and LGUs for their preparations for the implementation of the BPP.
Go said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will aid grantees through the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged or Displaced Workers Program and Government Internship Program (TUPAD-GIP) to help those who have lost their jobs upon their return to their provinces.
DOLE will also be holding job fairs to match applicants with potential employers.
Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will continue generating businesses and employment opportunities in the countryside.
DTI’s Negosyo sa Barangay will assist grantees in setting up and sustaining their own businesses in their respective hometowns.
The NHA and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development will soon be working out a housing development plan to create affordable housing for the beneficiaries.
“Lahat ng agencies po mag-aalign ng kanilang mga programs, activities and projects na pwedeng makatulong sa mga kababayan nating nais umuwi, at para rin ma-encourage ang iba na mag-relocate sa mga probinsya sa tamang panahon (All agencies will align all programs, activities, and projects that could assist our countrymen who wish to return to their hometowns, as well as to encourage more families to relocate in the provinces at the proper time),” Go said.
The Balik Probinsya is being prioritized after President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order 114, “Institutionalizing the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program” as a pillar of balanced regional development.
EO 114 was signed by President Duterte after the Senate adopted Go’ Senate Resolution No. 380 urging the Executive department to formulate and implement the BPP as an important initiative, as the country prepares itself for the ‘new normal’ after the country overcomes the Covid-19 pandemic.
Those who wish to avail of the program may already apply online through the official website of the program (balikprobinsya.ph).
On the website, applicants can fill-up the form which will inquire about their personal details, technical skills, and their intended provincial destination.
Filipinos may also manually sign application forms to be distributed throughout Metro Manila, or through an SMS system that is being set up by the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa inter-agency council. (IA/PNA)