‘Balik Probinsya’ program aims to decongest Metro-Manila

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on April 23, 2020. TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Friday, April 24 supported the proposal that encourages people to go back to their home provinces which would thus decongest Metro Manila—adding that the government must give the people hope.

During the meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go proposed for the government to initiate the “Balik Probinsya” program to relocate people from the capital.

President Duterte, in response said, “Maganda ‘yan, Bong. Go home to the province. They have the means of going back there and there is a promise.”

“We have to provide the transportation. At ang sabihin natin if you go back ganito, ganito. What is really very important is we give them hope. It’s very important, ‘yung hope ng tao.”

Senator Go added, that the country should learn from the current COVID-19 pandemic, citing that as a result of the dense population, the virus would rapidly spread in Metro Manila communities—thus making it more challenging for local and national governments to respond.

“Marami na tayong natutunan sa krisis na ito tulad ng hirap sa dulot nang pagkumpol-kumpol ng tao sa mga siyudad. Simulan na nating paghandaan at tuluyan na nating aksyunan ang isyung ito at huwag nang antayin pa na mas lumala pa ang problema,” Go suggested.

“Kailangan magkaroon ang gobyerno ng long-term solutions upang matugunan ito.”

He proposed that as soon as the enhanced community quarantine is lifted and travel is gradually normalized, the government must encourage Filipino families to move out of Manila and other metropolitan areas.

As such, the government must provide the means and incentives to entice people to go back to the provinces for good.

Further, local government units (LGUs) must also partake in this program—ensure that necessary quarantine measures and mass testing for COVID-19 are ready and set in place in order to prevent those possibly infected from spreading the disease.

At the same time, Go said the government must also prepare the provinces in hosting the returning population through the provision of shelter, food, and livelihood. Additionally detailing that creating robust economic activity is paramount for encouraging people to relocate to the provinces from urban areas.

“Kaya mahalagang magbigay din tayo ng mga insentibo sa mga negosyante o mga mamumuhunan,” he said. “Magtulungan tayo, magbayanihan po tayo para malampasan ang krisis na ito.”

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