Filipinos who wish to return to their home provinces may soon be able to do so, even amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, through a government program that was recently institutionalized.
Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, Jr announced the signing by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte of Executive Order No. 114, or the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program.
“Ibig sabihin, yung polisiya na pinangungunahan ni Senator Bong Go ay pinapatupad na ngayon po sa executive branch of government,” said Secretary Roque in his virtual media briefing on May 7.
To implement the measures under the said program, a Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Council will be established, to be headed by the Executive Secretary, and assisted by the Secretary of the National Economic and Development Authority as vice-chair.
“Sa immediate term po, magbibigay po ng financial and non-cash assistance ang DSWD para dun sa gusto ng umuwi. At ang napag-alaman ko po, na dalawang probinsya na ang tatanggap ng mga babalik probinsya, ang probinsya ng Leyte at probinsya ng Camarines Sur,” said Secretary Roque.
For the long-term, Secretary Roque said that there will be policy shifts, new ecozones will be created in provinces, among other measures that will ensure balanced regional development.
The Palace official further disclosed that for those who will be going back to the provinces under the Balik Probinsya Program, transportation will be provided by the Department of Transportation, while the staging area will be at the National Housing Authority (NHA), since the general manager of the NHA will be the executive director of the Balik Probinsya Program.
“Ang Secretariat po ay ang NHA, si GM po ang ating kumbaga, chief enforcer nito. Ang mga bus ay will be provided by DOTr and the coordination will be done by DILG. And of course Department of Health will also contribute dahil kinakailangan masunod yung testing protocols bago sila makauwi,” Roque said.
On why the Balik Probinsya program is being started now during the COVID-19 pandemic, the President’s spokesman said that it is being done to assist those who have expressed interest to move back to their home provinces to alleviate their way of living.
“Alam nyo po kase, habang mahirap ang buhay sa Metro Manila, marami talagang gustong umuwi na sa kanilang mga probinsya. So ginagawan naman po ng paraan na yung talagang iba na nais ng bumalik sa kanilang mga probinsya ay makabalik na,” Roque said.
However, he clarified that quarantine protocols will have to be followed in the movement of people from Metro Manila to the provinces. “Ito naman po ay panimula pa lamang, kinakailangan mag comply pa rin sa mga quarantine protocols dail ayaw naman nating kumalat ang COVID sa mga probinsya,” stressed Secretary Roque.
Meanwhile, in the same media briefing, Secretary Roque announced the various guidelines that were approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the implementation of the ECQ and GCQ, including the interim guidelines developed by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on workplace prevention and control of COVID-19.
The DOLE guideline includes measures to be taken to minimize contact rate in work places, such as implementing alternative work arrangements, wearing of face mask at all times, shortened meetings with limited attendees, re-arranging of work stations to ensure proper physical distancing, and other minimum health standards that have to be enforced all the time. ### OPS-PCOO