PRRD signs EO adopting Bong Go's 'Balik Probinsiya' as national strategy

Published May 6, 2020, 8:00 PM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Genalyn Kabiling

The government is aiming to reverse migration to Metro Manila and other congested urban centers by formally adopting the “Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa” (BP2) program as a national strategy.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signs the Republic Act 11033 'Converting the Davao Oriental State College of Science and Technology into a State University' and Republic Act 11032 or 'Ease of Doing Business Act' during the ceremonial enactment at Malacañan Palace on May 28, 2018. Joining the President are Senate President Vicente Sotto III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Duterte has issued Executive Order (EO) No. 114 institutionalizing the Balik Probinsya program, that includes the “voluntary” movement of people and businesses to rural areas, as a pillar of balanced regional development.

A new inter-agency council led by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea has also been created to formulate the BP2 program framework within 30 days.

“The uncontrolled upsurge of population in the National Capital Region brings to the fore longstanding issues on the lack of viable and sustainable employment opportunities in the countryside, unbalanced regional development, and unequal distribution of wealth,” the order read.

“To reverse migration to the NCR and other congested metropolises as well as to attain rural prosperity through equitable distribution of wealth, resources and opportunities, a balanced regional development program to foster socially cohesive, resilient, and sustainable rural communities needs to be institutionalized,” it added.

The President recently endorsed the Balik Probinsya program proposed by Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, saying a fresh start in the provinces will give people a sense of hope amid the coronavirus pandemic. Go recommended the relocation of people to the provinces to help decongest densely populated areas such as Metro Manila, once the coronavirus-related quarantine restrictions have been lifted.

Under the Balik Probinsya program, the government will implement programs aimed at boosting countryside development and inclusive growth, providing adequate social services, promoting employment and industrialization, and improving quality of life in rural areas.

The program framework must include empowerment of local industries, food security and agricultural productivity, social welfare, health and employment, and infrastructure development.

To facilitate the relocation of persons and enterprises from NCR to rural areas, the government may also provide assistance in transportation, housing support, livelihood and employment packages, agri-based support services, education programs, fiscal incentives for small businesses, among others.

The President has tasked the Department of Transportation and Department of the Interior and Local Government to coordinate with local government units on the transportation and relocation of people interested in returning to the provinces. The Department of National Defense, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Philippine Coast Guard may be called to provide logistical support.

The medium-term and long-term projects may include the establishment of new special economic zones in Visayas and Mindanao, decentralization of powers and seat of governance, tax incentives for agricultural or tourism industries, and creation of new urban centers outside Metro Manila.

The funds for the program will be initially sourced from the budget of concerned government agencies.

The order took effect immediately it was signed by the President Wednesday (May 6).