Informal settlers, PWDs prioritized under Balik Probinsya

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MANILA – Besides those who want to return to their respective provinces, informal settlers and persons with disabilities (PWDs) will also be among those prioritized as beneficiaries of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) program.

Ang mga priorities po natin ay iyong mga gusto na talagang bumalik permanently sa probinsya. Pangalawa, iyong mga informal settlers po natin gusto na ring umuwi lalo na iyong nakatira sa mga danger zones dito sa Metro Manila (Our priorities will be those who permanently want to return to their respective provinces. Second, informal settlers who want to return especially those living in danger zones in Metro Manila),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual presser on Wednesday.

PWDs who want to return to their respective provinces will also be prioritized, he added.

Roque said that while all Filipinos could apply as beneficiaries, the government will have to assess who are the most deserving to avail of the program’s benefits.

“Lahat po ng gustong mag-apply, puwede po kayong mag-apply. Eh lahat naman po iyan ay mayroon tayong panuntunan na susundin (All those who want to apply may apply. But all of these will have guidelines we will have to follow),” Roque said.

While none of the applications will be denied, the government will have to identify who among the applicants would succeed in having an improved quality of life in rural areas.

Wala pong ide-deny na application, pero ang assessment ay gagawin na titingnan po talaga na pupuwede talaga silang magkaroon ng bagong buhay doon sa gusto nilang balikan na probinsya (None of the applications will be denied but the assessment that will be made is to see who among the applicants can really have a new life when they return to their provinces),” he said.

Earlier, Roque assured that the government will craft mechanisms to ensure that beneficiaries of the BP2 program will no longer return to Metro Manila.

Currently, the guidelines for the full and effective implementation of the BP2 program are now being formulated.

The BP2 program, a pet project of President Rodrigo Duterte’s former aide and now Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, seeks to decongest Metro Manila which is home to 12.87 million Filipinos.

Last week, Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) 114 which institutionalizes the BP2 program “to ensure balanced regional development and equitable distribution of wealth, resources and opportunities”.

The BP2 program also aims to boost countryside development and inclusive growth, provide adequate social services, and promote full employment, industrialization, and improved quality of life in rural areas.

It is also meant to prepare the country for the “new normal” after the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and other future health crises.

The national government is now coordinating with local government units to ensure the safe return of those who will be relocated to their respective provinces.

Around 3,000 persons who are residing in Metro Manila but want to return to their respective provinces have already been identified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). (PNA)

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