Bong Go: ‘Balik Probinsiya’ program ready for pilot testing in six provinces

Published May 8, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Mario B. Casayuran

The pilot testing of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pagasa or BPBP (Return to the Province, New Hope) program meant to decongest Metro Manila is now ready to begin, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said on Friday.

Bayanihan in times of COVID-19: Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go urges colleagues to immediately pass the proposed Senate Bill No. 1418, or the “Bayanihan To Heal As One Act”, which will provide cash and healthcare assistance to families of displaced informal sector workers. Go, in his co-sponsorship speech Monday night, March 23, 2020, said he suggested the inclusion of the word “bayanihan” in the title of the bill as the measure is a result of the concerted efforts of the Legislature and the Executive in responding to the COVID-19 situation. (Henzberg Austria/ Senate PRIB)
Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go (Henzberg Austria / Senate PRIB / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Go revealed this after commending concerned national agencies and local government units (LGUs) for their preparations for the implementation of the BPBP program.

He said through the efforts of these agencies and LGUs, BPBP is ready for pilot testing.

Go, author of the program, said the BPBP is an important initiative as the country prepares itself for the “new normal” while dealing with the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The senator from Davao said the BPBP is being prioritized after President Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) 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 instructs concerned agencies to prepare and implement the Balik Probinsya program.

“Ngayon ay isa sa priorities na ang BPBP. 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 (DSWD) na around 3,000 individuals na pasok sa basic criteria ng programa,” Go said.

(BPBP is now one of the government’s priorities. I am elated that there are provinces that have signified their readiness for the pilot testing. The DSWD has identified around 3,000 individuals who fit the criteria of the program.)

Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee, said he was informed by National Housing Authority General (NHA) Manager Jun Escalada and Mindanao Development Authority (MDA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol that six provinces are ready to participate in the testing phase: 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.

(I thank the governors of these provinces for preparing for available sites to accept our countrymen who want to return to the provinces. Government agencies are coordinating with LGUs so that protocols and processes of the program can be rolled out.)

According to the DSWD, the agency has identified more than 3,000 individuals living in Metro Manila who want to return to their respective provinces. The DSWD added that workers stranded in Metro Manila would also be assisted to 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, adding that agencies will conduct necessary quarantine measures, COVID-19 testing, and health certifications prior to the travel of these identified individuals and families.

(To those who want to return now, protocols have been prepared to ensure safe travel that will not spread the illness. Transportation assistance and transitory packages will be distributed.)

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.

(On those identified individuals, the DSWD will verify where they originally are from so that assistance may be given right away and they can go home.)

Go said yesterday that it is important for local governments to be fully prepared to accept returning locals.

He also said 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.

“Mabuti na merong BPBP 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.

(It is good to have the BPBP so that our countrymen will know that government will help them have an orderly return home, so they can have a good start for a better life.)

Based on a virtual meeting held Friday (May 8), the DSWD will extend help to identified beneficiary families by providing transportation assistance, food packs, hygiene kits, family kits, and other non-food items in the immediate phase of the program.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) 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 (DTI) will continue generating businesses and employment opportunities in the countryside. DTI’s Negosyo sa Barangay will assist grantees to set up and sustain their own businesses in their respective hometowns.

The National Housing Authority and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) will soon be working out a housing development plan to create affordable housing for the beneficiaries.

“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.

(BPBP complements our existing health measures to fight COVID-19 so that in the future, our nation will be more empowered, particularly the provinces, when it comes to solving problems such as the pandemic, and to be more prepared for any crisis that may come.)

According to NHA GM Jun Escalada, those who wish to avail of the program can apply online through the official website of the program (balikprobinsya.ph). At the website, applicants can fill up the form which requests 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, Go explained.

 
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