MANILA – The government is ramping up efforts for a simultaneous rollout of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-Asa (BP2) program on June 11, this time for the second batch of qualified beneficiaries who want to return to their provinces in Visayas and Mindanao, BP2 Council Executive Director Marcelino Escalada Jr. said Thursday.
Escalada, who is also the general manager of the National Housing Authority (NHA), said an evaluation has been done upon the completion of the rollout of the BP2’s first batch of beneficiaries on May 20.
“We are set already to have a simultaneous rollout effective June 11. I’m speaking again for Leyte, Samar, Negros Occidental, Northern Samar, Camarines Sur, Eastern Samar, Zamboanga del Norte, and Lanao del Norte. We are confirming that our next batch of the rollout will be on June 11 for Leyte,” Escalada said in an interview in Laging Handa virtual public briefing.
Another 100 BP2 qualified enrollees, he said, will be sent home to their provinces starting June 11.
Due to the congestion of the dispatch area, Escalada said he had already coordinated with the provincial government of Camarines Sur to conduct a separate send-off of BP2 beneficiaries departing Manila scheduled on June 12.
“There will be a minimum of five or six buses every day from June 11 and June 12 and we hope to get another schedule for Zamboanga del Norte and Lanao del Norte,” he added, noting that coordination with the provincial and local governments in the Mindanao provinces is ongoing.
Balik Probinsya enrolment
“There are two ways within which an applicant can go into our enrolment (so) in the observance of physical distancing, much better than everyone will apply online,” Escalada said.
There are already 79,000 individuals already enrolled online for the BP2 program, he said.
These individuals, he added, are situated in barangays within the National Capital Region (NCR).
Escalada said people can also avail of the free enrollment for the Balik Probinsya program through manual registrations.
He said forms are available in the barangay within NCR for those who don’t have smartphones and internet connections at home.
“They can enrol manually, they can fill out the form and at the same time, it will be submitted to the NHA secretariat and we will be the one to consolidate the data that will form part of our database,” he said, noting that the government has already produced 50,000 forms which were distributed to the barangays within Metro Manila.
“We expect around 10,000 applications via manual to be in anytime towards the end of this week which will form part of our database both for online and manual enrollment,” he said.
BP2 centers, enrollees’ profiles
Escalada said he already requested village leaders through the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to establish the Balik Probinsya centers in all barangay levels
“We also requested our BP2 council member departments to establish their own BP2 desks in their main office in Metro Manila and in their regional field offices,” he added.
He said most online enrollees in the BP2 program are composed of local migrants who originate from the Visayas provinces.
These individuals, he said, are victims of natural calamities such as Typhoon Yolanda wherein widespread destruction was brought to affected residents in the provinces of Leyte, Southern Leyte, Eastern Samar, Biliran, Negros Occidental, Cebu, Capiz, Aklan, Antique, Iloilo, Masbate, Palawan, and Dinagat Islands.
“If you notice in our profile, these were all residents of Manila for the last seven, six or five years, my impression, my data tells me that indeed this was the time that Yolanda hit the Tacloban and the Yolanda Corridor,” Escalada said.
The rest of the local migrants were hard-hit by the insurgencies in various areas in Mindanao provinces, he said.
“The movement of people upon certain calamity, whether it’s natural or even man-made calamity, that indeed the opportunities in the provinces at that time were no longer available. That’s why they left their provinces and proceeded to Metro Manila,” he explained.
Escalada said the government is now pushing for the “reverse migrations” of these people, as the provinces hit by calamities “have gradually developed and bounced back already in those span of three or four years.”
Escalada said the readiness of the local government units (LGUs) should also be considered in the implementation of the BP2 program.
“We have the targets from the point of view of the BP2 council. However, the targets remained to be a tentative figure because we have to consider the readiness of the LGU,” he said, noting that the target numbers of migrants to be sent home to their provinces remained to be fluid.
Escalada said the government is also considering the health crisis situation in the country.
“In the case of Leyte, their testing capacity for coronavirus is only 100 (so) that 100 is the maximum number that we will be deployed in certain dispatch time. However, since we have a quarantine period of 14 days, we will have to wait for another 14 days for the second batch to come,” he said.
He added that the government is also observing preventive measures of a ‘certain province’ against Covid-19.
“If you notice, the last batch we had in the pilot project was on May 20. We will have our second rollout by June 11, that is an observance to the protocols and standards of a certain province,” he said, adding that the testing capacity of the LGUs also matters.
“In courtesy to the governors and the mayors, we would highly recommend close coordination as well as recognizing their capacity to treat and test their own constituents. The numbers are still fluid. The targets will be there for us to be able to help us plan the next rollout,” Escalada said.
Balik Probinsya vs. Hatid Probinsya
Meanwhile, Escalada also noted that the public should not be confused with the difference between the Balik Probisya program and the Hatid Probisya Program of the government.
“The Balik Probinsya is a program by which (it is) intended for the residents living in Metro Manila going back to the provinces for good,” Escalada said.
The Balik Probinsya is a long-term program of the government, he said, that provides certain packages for the beneficiaries upon their return to their provinces “for good”.
On the other hand, he said the Hatid Probinsya is a “short-term humanitarian effort to assist residents who have been stranded in Metro Manila due to travel restrictions imposed under the enhanced community quarantine (EQC).
“The Hatid Probinsya initiative is just an assistance. These are all stranded individuals, stranded tourists, students and OFWs due to lack of public transport in Metro Manila (so) the government—as part of our commitment, we provided for the sea transport, land transport as well as the air transport just to make sure that they have been assisted back home to their provinces,” he added.
Last May 6, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 114 to institutionalize the Balik Probisya, Bagong Pag-Asa (BP2) program, which aims to address Metro Manila’s congested urban areas by encouraging people, especially informal settlers to return to their home provinces.
The program includes the introduction of a sustainable program and rationalized system of fiscal incentives for export-oriented and domestic-oriented enterprises, as well as support for micro, small and medium enterprises to the qualified beneficiaries. (PNA)