Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said that President Rodrigo Duterte has signed Executive Order No. 114, “Institutionalizing the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program as a Pillar of Balanced Regional Development, Creating a Council Therefor, and for Other Purposes,” which will instruct concerned agencies to prepare and implement the “Balik Probinsya” program.
“Nagpapasalamat ako dahil pinirmahan na ni Pangulong Duterte ang EO 114 para gawing prayoridad ang pag-plano at pag-implementa ng BPP kasabay ng ating pagsugpo ng COVID-19 crisis,” he said.
“Dahil dito, magkakaroon rin ng isang inter-agency body, ng isang Council, na mangunguna sa pagpapatupad nito,” the Senator added.
The signed EO came after Senator Go authored Senate Resolution No. 380 which was adopted by the Senate during the plenary session last Monday, May 4, to urge the executive department to formulate and implement the BPP.
According to the EO, the BPP will bring “balanced regional development and equitable distribution of wealth, resources and opportunities through policies and programs that boost countryside development and inclusive growth.”
The program will also provide adequate social services to its people, promote employment, and focus on key areas, such as empowerment of local industries, food security, and infrastructure development in rural areas.
The Senator emphasized the importance of the BPP as it complements existing health measures being done to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Go said that the short-term plans of the program can immediately help people who are badly affected by the health crisis to return home in the provinces.
“’Yung immediate po ‘yung mga kailangan na talagang umuwi sa kanilang mga probinsya kapag na-lift na ang travel restrictions. Mid-term naman ‘yung gusto na mag-relocate pabalik ng kanilang home provinces. Long-term ay para ma-encourage ang paglipat ng mga tao at mga negosyo palabas ng urban centers to boost development sa mga probinsya,” he explained.
Go also took the opportunity to urge concerned government agencies to act immediately in order to prepare and implement the various components of the BPP according to its objectives and timeline.
“Ngayon po na gagawing isa sa mga priorities itong BPP, nanagawan ako sa mga iba’t-ibang ahensya ng pamahalaan na ilatag na ang mga kailangang proseso at protocols according sa mandato nila at sa timeline na ito,” Go said.
“Gawin na natin ngayon ang mga hakbang na kailangang ilatag dahil marami na sa ating mga kababayan ang gusto nang umuwi sa kani-kanilang mga probinsya,” Go said citing that many Filipino families have already expressed their willingness to relocate to their home provinces.
In an interview on Wednesday, May 6, Go stressed the importance of government agencies in identifying and implementing initiatives for the immediate, medium-term, and long-term phases of the proposed program.
Senator Go said that for the immediate or short-term phase, local government units must strictly implement quarantine protocols, COVID-19 testing and coordinate with the Department of Health when they can accept BPP beneficiaries, especially those who are stranded in urban centers due to the pandemic.
“Para sa mga immediate plans, kailangan po ng LGUs na magpatupad ng mga quarantine protocols, kasama ng pag-maintain at pag-operate ng mga quarantine facilities dahil in coordination po ito with DOH. Siguraduhin po natin na ‘yung mga uuwi ng probinsya ay hindi po maging carrier ng sakit sa uuwian nila,” Go said.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development is also tasked to help by providing transportation assistance, food packs, hygiene kits, family kits, and other non-food items for the short-term phase.
Senator Go said that the medium-term phase involves identifying families who want to partake in the BPP to relocate to the countryside. Go said that the priorities in this phase include employment, health, educational institutions, housing, and peace and order.
“For mediate plans naman po, kailangan ng mga LGUs maglagay ng mga help desk para sa mga nais lumahok na po rito sa BPP. Kailangan din masiguro ang peace and order situation doon sa kanilang nasasakupan,” Go said.
Citing the BPP as a long-term initiative, Senator Go emphasized the need for government agencies to plan and implement continuing protocols that will lead to urban renewal, rural development and decentralized approach in governance in the years to come to boost regional development and equitable distribution of wealth and economic opportunities.
“Sa long-term naman po, sa mga succeeding years, even after this administration, ang target nito ay ‘to encourage’ po… sa mga naninirahan sa mga malalaking lungsod na lumipat sa mga probinsya at magbigay ng mga insentibo para sa mga negosyo na nais mamuhunan doon,” Go said.
Senator Go said that as a legislator, he will continue to monitor the preparations and eventual implementation of the BPP, support related programs that could enhance further the BPP, and push for legislative measures that are geared towards the goals of the BPP to ensure the successful implementation of the program’s various phases.
The Senator reiterated that the BPP is not only a solution to decongest the country’s urban centers, but a way of giving many Filipinos hope to start life anew.
“Bigyan po natin ng pag-asa ang ating mga kababayan, ang mga kapatid nating Pilipino. Hindi naman po pwedeng pauuwiin po sila at hindi po natin sila bigyan ng bagong pag-asa. Tulungan natin sila na magkaroon ng mas mabuting buhay,” Go said.
“As the President said, starting fresh in the provinces would give Filipinos HOPE for a better future after COVID-19 crisis,” he added.