MANILA – While the long-term goal of the “Balik Probinsya” program (BPP) is to encourage urban dwellers to relocate to the provinces to promote countryside development, the program should still be “voluntary” and would prioritize Filipino families who are willing to start anew in the countryside, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said Friday.
“Walang pilitan ito, hindi pwedeng pilitin ‘yung mga tao na umuwi na ng probinsya. Hinanda po ito para sa mga may gustong lumipat o umuwi na. Bibigyan sila ng gobyerno ng magandang oportunidad na magsimula ng maayos na pamumuhay sa kanilang mga probinsya pagkatapos ng Covid-19 crisis,” Go said.
(This is not mandatory, the government cannot force people to go back to the provinces. The program was conceived for those who wanted to relocate or return. The government will provide them the opportunity to start a new life in their provinces after the coronavirus disease crisis.)
“Ngayon po ito pwedeng mangyari dahil maraming gustong umuwi, so unahin natin ‘yung mga gustong umuwi. Kung gusto nila manirahan dito sa Maynila, respetuhin po natin (Now is the time to implement it because many people wanted to go back to the provinces, so we will prioritize those who are willing. If they want to live here in Manila, we will respect that),” he said.
For those who wish to go back to the provinces now, Go said concerned officials from the Executive branch have assured that programs are already in place for their immediate relocation.
“Protocols are already in place to ensure that their travel is safe and would not result in the spread of Covid-19. Transportation assistance and transitory packages would also be provided,” he said.
Go said that preparations for the long-term goals of the BPP are underway.
He said all concerned government agencies are starting to align programs, activities, and projects that would help the returning families, and also encourage more families to relocate at the proper time.
“Ang mga local government units ay naghahanda na rin po para tumanggap ng mga magsisibalikan para mabigyan sila ng sapat na tulong, pabahay, kabuhayan at iba pa (LGUs are also preparing to provide the returning families with adequate assistance, housing, livelihood, among others),” Go said.
Go noted that concerned government departments and agencies, such as the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the National Housing Authority (NHA), will help in planning out available land that can be converted for the use of the various beneficiaries for housing, businesses, and agriculture.
“There are government lands in the provinces that, in coordination with the NHA, could be used for low-cost housing, to encourage returning families and give them hope to have a house of their own,” he said.
Go said he will help formulate long-term plans and push for key legislative measures necessary to encourage more Filipinos to go home to the provinces and start their lives anew.
“I am studying several measures that will encourage investors and businesses to expand their operations in the provinces and grant them incentives to boost development and availability of economic opportunities in the countryside,” he said.
“Pag maraming negosyo, plantasyon, factory at iba pang kabuhayan, ay maraming trabahong pwede nating ibigay sa mga Pilipino sa probinsya (If there are more businesses, plants, factories, and other livelihood opportunities, there will be more jobs to offer to Filipinos in the provinces),” Go said. (IA/PNA)