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Balik-probinsya gets under way

May 22, 2020 - Friday 4:05 AM by MDM

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The speed with which the Balik-Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) program got underway with the send-off of 112 individuals back to the province of Leyte highlights an unfolding history for the long haul.

It is the climax to a round-about journey for the BP2 beneficiaries who agreed to leave the congested communities of Metro Manila to go back to their roots. This time they are staying home for good. With good reason.

Various government agencies and the local governments units will be on hand to provide them the means for a fresh start, including housing, capital, and the opportunity and assistance to pursue their chosen trades.

It is a dream come true for many. The BP2 was conceptualized by Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic that showed most of the victims coming from the congested areas of Metro Manila.

On May 6, 2020, President Duterte signed Executive Order No. 114 that institutionalized the program. About two weeks later, the first batch of BP2 beneficiaries were on board a fleet of buses to Leyte.

This fast turn of events, according to Senator Go, underscored the political will of the Duterte administration to bring government closer to the people.

Economist and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said critics misread the BP2 by referring to it as “a way to dump the urban poor in the provinces.” Far from it.

In fact, he said, the EO was clear that urban congestion was not the main problem. “Rather, the upsurge in the NCR manifests the lack of viable and sustainable opportunities in the countryside.

The BP2, he said, is meant to address the situation by developing both the countryside and the cities as engines of growth and regional development and unequal distribution of wealth.

He said Dutertenomics is guided by the principle that all Filipinos deserve a comfortable life.

And nowhere is that comfortable life worth pursuing than in the countryside for so long as conditions can be made right — to make life more livable and more meaningful.