MANILA – The government will craft mechanisms to ensure that beneficiaries of the “Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa” (BP2) program will no longer return to Metro Manila, Malacañang said on Saturday.
During the Laging Handa program aired on state-run PTV-4, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the guidelines for the full and effective implementation of the BP2 program are now being formulated.
“I’m sure magkakaroon sila ng safeguards, mga mekanismo para maiwasan naman ‘yung pag-balik ng mga nag-avail na ng benepisyo ng Balik Probinsya program (I’m sure there will be safeguards, mechanisms to avoid the return of those who avail of the benefits provided under the Balik Probinsya Program [to Metro Manila]),” Roque said.
Roque made the remarks amid concerns over the possibility that beneficiaries of the BP2 program might leave their respective provinces after getting assistance from the government.
BP2 program, a pet project of President Rodrigo Duterte’s former special aide and now Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, seeks to decongest Metro Manila which is home to 12.87 million Filipinos.
On Wednesday, Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) 114 which institutionalizes the BP2 program “to ensure balanced regional development and equitable distribution of wealth, resources and opportunities.”
EO 114 seeks the implementation of policies and programs that will boost countryside development and inclusive growth, provide adequate social services, and promote full employment, industrialization, and improved quality of life in rural areas.
In a separate statement, Go said six provinces are now ready to participate in the testing phase of the BP2 program.
Go said Leyte, Zamboanga del Norte, Lanao del Norte, Bukidnon, North Cotabato, and Camarines Sur have expressed readiness to conduct a pilot testing of the relocation program.
“Ngayon ay isa sa priorities na ang [BP2]. Natutuwa ako na may mga provinces na po na nagsabing handa na para sa pilot testing (BP2 is now one of the government’s priorities. I am happy that there are provinces that are ready for pilot testing),” he said.
Go noted that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has already identified around 3,000 persons who are residing in Metro Manila but want to return to their respective provinces.
He added that workers stranded in Metro Manila will also be assisted for their return to their home provinces.
Go said the national government is now coordinating with local government units to ensure the safe return of those who will be relocated to their respective provinces.
“Para sa mga gustong umuwi na ngayon, may nakahanda nang protocols daw ang gobyerno para siguraduhin na ligtas ang pagbyahe at hindi ito magdudulot ng lalong pagkalat ng sakit. May transportation assistance at transitory package na ipapamahagi (For those who wish to return home now, the government has imposed protocols to ensure their safe travel and protect them against any disease. There will be transportation assistance and transitory package for them),” he said.
Go said BP2 program is an important initiative as the country prepares for the “new normal” after the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
The DSWD is expected to provide transportation assistance, transitory assistance packages, and livelihood assistance to BP2 beneficiaries.
The Department of Labor and Employment will also give job opportunities to those who will be part of the BP2 program, while the Department of Trade and Industry will continue generating businesses and employment opportunities in the countryside.
The National Housing Authority and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development will likewise come up with a housing development plan to create affordable housing for the BP2 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 government agencies will implement programs, activities, and projects that can help our fellow Filipinos who wish to return to their provinces. These will also encourage others to return home),” Go said.
Go said those who wish to avail of the relocation program may visit balikprobinsya.ph to fill out a form that will inquire about their personal details, technical skills, and intended provincial destination.
Filipinos may also manually sign application forms that will be distributed throughout Metro Manila, or through an SMS system that is being set up by the BP2 inter-agency council, Go added.
Go said national agencies will check the readiness of provinces to accept the returnees.
”Doon sa mga identified individuals natin, i-verify ng DSWD kung taga saan sila originally para mabigyan agad ng tulong at makakauwi na sila (For the identified individuals, DSWD will verify where their province is so we can give them immediate assistance and they can return home),” he said. (ia/PNA)