Press Release
June 18, 2020

As MinDA prepares BP2 template communities, Bong Go stresses importance of providing economic opportunities to Filipinos who wish to relocate to provinces after COVID-19 crisis

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go expressed his support for the ongoing preparations of various local government units in Mindanao for the beneficiaries of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program.

Go said that ensuring the availability of economic opportunities in local communities will boost regional development consistent with the long-term goals of the program that is set to be fully implemented after the COVID-19 crisis.

"Layunin po ng programang ito na mabigyan ng bagong pag-asa ang mga Pilipino na may hinaharap silang maayos na kinabukasan pagkatapos ng krisis at tutulungan sila kung sakaling gusto nilang bumalik sa kanilang mga probinsya," Go explained.

In order to successfully implement the BP2 program, Go said that it is important for national agencies to conduct proper coordination with LGUs in order to ensure that health protocols are in place and local communities will be capable of providing economic opportunities to their constituents.

"Marami nang gustong umuwi pero walang pilitan po ito. Lalo na pagkatapos ng krisis na ito kung saan karamihan ay nawalan na nga ng trabaho, huwag sana ipagkait pa sa kanila ang pag-uwi sa sariling probinsya. Ibigay dapat ang tulong na kanilang kinakailangan upang makabangon muli," he added.

Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chair, Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, disclosed that the BP2 Council member agencies recently concluded a series of consultations with various LGU officials mayors in preparation for those who wish to relocate to the provinces.

The government is establishing resettlement villages in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte; Sergio Osmeña, Zamboanga del Norte; and Kalawit, Zamboanga del Norte. Piñol hopes the three villages will serve as a template for future communities once the BP2 program is fully implemented.

Each community will be composed of 200 families from Metro Manila. They will also undertake a common production activity: organic broiler chicken and vegetables production (in Kauswagan); high-value vegetables and free-range chicken (Sergio Osmeña); and tree farming with cacao and coffee intercrop and free-range chicken production (Kalawit).

"There are still hundreds of hectares of agricultural lands and unlimited water resources that can be utilized for livelihood in the provinces. Agriculture and food security play a big role in regional development," said Sen. Go in a previous statement.

In an interview, Piñol clarified that the BP2 Program Council's decision to postpone subsequent rollouts of the program will give the concerned local governments more time to prepare. The Kauswagan village, he continued, is expected to open in early September of this year. The BP2 program has almost 90,000 enrollees as of June 17, 2020.

The BP2 Program Council is currently doing necessary ground preparations for subsequent roll outs, such as close coordination with the receiving local government units to give them more time to prepare for the arrival of BP2 beneficiaries who expressed willingness to relocate to their provinces for good, according to National Housing Authority General Manager and BP2 Program Executive Director Marcelino Escalada, Jr.

In the meantime, the government is prioritizing various "Hatid Tulong" initiatives for locally stranded individuals.

"Habang nilalabanan natin ang COVID-19, ihanda na rin natin ang mga probinsya para sa mga nais nang lumipat upang mabigyan ang mga Pilipino ng mas maayos na buhay pagkatapos malampasan ang krisis na ito," he said.

Go also mentioned that government synergy will be a key factor in helping Filipinos recover from the crisis. He said that the success of BP2 Program will also depend on the widespread and active participation of key government agencies in boosting economic opportunities in the provinces.

Senator Go proposed the BP2 upon realizing that congestion in Metro Manila has been a perennial roadblock for development and is one of the key factors in the very high number of COVID-19 infection cases. "Dahil sa dikit-dikit na mga bahay, pagkumpol kumpol ng mga tao, mas madaling kumalat ang sakit sa Metro Manila. Halos 70% ng mga kaso ng mga impeksyon at mga namatay dahil sa COVID-19 ay nasa Metro Manila," he said.

"Nakikita naman natin ang naging masamang epekto at hirap dulot ng sobrang pagsikip ng mga tao at pamamahay, katulad sa Metro Manila. Masyadong maraming tao sa Kamaynilaan, dikit dikit ang mga bahay, lumalala ang trapiko, dumarami ang iskwater at walang maayos na tirahan. Mababa ang quality of life. Mas mabilis kumakalat ang sakit, at mas nahihirapan ang national government at ang mga local government units na alagaan ang lahat ng apektado ng krisis na kinakaharap natin," explained the Senator.

The BP2 Program Council created under Executive Order 114, issued by President Rodrigo Duterte, institutionalizing the program, is presently crafting policies that will accelerate countryside socio-economic development.

The EO came after Go authored Senate Resolution No. 380 which was adopted by the Senate during its plenary session on May 4, urging the executive department to formulate and implement the BP2 program.

According to the EO, the BP2 Program 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.

In the long-run, the inter-agency council expects that more secondary economic growth hubs will be created in the provinces. This includes the establishment of special economic zones, particularly in the Visayas and Mindanao. Economic planners also agree that there is a need to revisit how government provides incentives to investors to encourage them to invest in the countryside.

"Kami po ni Pangulong Duterte ay probinsyano rin. Taga-Davao po kami. Doon po kami lumaki, at tulad ng ibang mga probinsyano, doon rin namin nais bumalik pagkatapos ng aming pagseserbisyo sa bayan," Go shared.

"As PRRD said, starting fresh in the provinces would give Filipinos HOPE for a better future after COVID-19 crisis. Sa pagbabalik sa probinsya, mabibigyan sila ng bagong pag-asa," he added.

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