Balik Probinsiya program suspended

The national government suspended the implementation of the Balik Probinsiya, Bagong Pag-asa Program to focus the resources on bringing stranded individuals in to their provinces, National Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. said Thursday. 

Escalada said the President Rodrigo Duterte gave a “clear instruction” to prioritize transporting people who have been stranded in NCR due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

“This was a clear instruction from the President, unahin pauwiin ang ating mga kababayan na stranded dito sa Maynila, and these are the OFWs (overseas Filipino workers), the construction workers, ating mga turista at mga estudyante. That is the arrangement right now,” Escalada, the program’s executive director, said in a televised briefing.

The Balik Probinsiya program would remain suspended until transportation would be available, and those who were stranded have been sent home. 

“I foresee that in the next month, let’s say, for example, July, I think bababa na ang demand ng stranded and therefore [ang] Balik Probinsiya will now take our second rollouts by that time,” he said.

“We want to make sure that, on the one hand, the LGUs (local government units) are ready to receive their own constituents by then.”

Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr., earlier appealed for the suspension of the program, citing returning individuals from became the new COVID-19 cases in their province. 

President Rodrigo Duterte, on May 6, signed an executive order to implement the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program, to decongest and develop provinces.

Duterte inked Executive Order 114, creating the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Council. The council will oversee the program implementation and compliance of government units involved.

The President said the framework of Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa includes social welfare, food security and agricultural productivity, infrastructure development, and employment, and empowerment.

The earlier reported around 10,000 Metro Manila residents already applied in “Balik Probinsya.”

“(It is) very promising because three days or four days thereafter, I already see 10,000 enrollees all over Metro Manila going to the top 10 provinces and municipalities of our country,” Escalada said in an interview with ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo.

Escalada said Leyte, Bohol, Samar, and Camarines Sur are among these ten provinces.