Pilot testing of “Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program” underway; Bong Go emphasizes importance of readiness of LGUs to support the program
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go commended concerned national agencies and local government units for their preparations for the implementation of the Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa Program. He said that through the efforts of these agencies and local government units, the Balik Probinsya Program can be ready for its pilot testing. He stressed that the BPP is an important initiative as the country prepares itself for the “new normal” after the country overcomes the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Senator said that the BPP 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, Creating a Council Therefor, and for Other Purposes,” which instructs concerned agencies to prepare and implement the “Balik Probinsya” program.
“Ngayon ay isa sa priorities na ang BPP, natutuwa ako na may mga provinces na po na nagsabing handa na para sa pilot testing. May na-identify na rin daw ang Department of Social Welfare and Development na around 3,000 individuals na pasok sa basic criteria ng programa,” Go said.
Senator Go was informed by National Housing Authority General Manager Jun Escalada and Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Manny Piñol that six provinces are ready to participate in the testing phase. These provinces who have expressed their readiness include Leyte, Zamboanga del Norte, Lanao del Norte, Bukidnon, North Cotabato, and Camarines Sur.
“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,” Go said.
According to the DSWD, the agency has identified more than 3,000 individuals living in Metro Manila who want to go home to their respective provinces. The agency added that workers stranded in Metro Manila will also be assisted for their return to their home 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,” Go said, reiterating that agencies will conduct necessary quarantine measures, COVID-19 testing and health certifications prior to travel of these identified individuals and families.
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.
“Doon sa mga identified individuals natin, i-verify ng DSWD kung taga saan sila originally para mabigyan agad ng tulong at makakauwi na sila,” Go said, adding that national agencies will check the readiness of provinces to accept the returnees.
In an online interview with Anthony Taberna, on May 7, Thursday, Senator Go said that it is important for local governments to be fully prepared to accept returning locals. Go also said that he was pleased that more provinces 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.
“Marami pa pong probinsya ang gustong sumali sa pilot testing. Hindi lang ito national government. Dapat ‘yung local government maghanda rin sila,” Go said.
“Mabuti na merong BPP para malaman ng ating mga mamamayan na may tulong ang pamahalaan sa kanila para maayos ang kanilang pagbalik at makapagsimula sila ng maayos at mas mabuting buhay,” he added.
Based on a virtual meeting conducted this Friday, the DSWD will extend help to identified beneficiary families by providing transportation assistance, food packs, hygiene kits, family kits, and other non-food items for the immediate phase of the program.
The Department of Labor and Employment will also aid grantees through the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged or Displaced Workers Program and Government Internship Program or TUPAD-GIP to help those who have lost their jobs upon their return to their provinces. DOLE will also be conducting job fairs to match individuals with potential employers.
The Department of Trade and Industry 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 National Housing Authority 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,” Go said.
“Right now, our priority is to address and overcome this health crisis first. Kino-complement ng BPP ang ating mga existing health measures upang labanan ang COVID-19 para sa future, mas empowered ang ating bansa, lalo na ang mga probinsya, pagdating sa paglutas ng mga problema tulad ng pandemic at mas maging handa sa anumang krisis na darating,” he added.
According to NHA GM Jun Escalada, those who wish to avail of the program may already apply online through the official website of the program (balikprobinsya.ph). In 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.