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Bong Go urges gov’t to focus investment plan towards boosting economic opportunities, rural dev’t in countryside

November 21, 2020 - Saturday 11:11 AM by MDM

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Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, urged the government to prioritize the implementation of an investment plan complementing the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program (BP2) to ensure equitable distribution of wealth, and accelerate socio-economic development in the countryside. 

This approach, he said, will help communities recover from the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and provide more economic opportunities to those who wish to start a new life in the provinces. 

By attracting investments in other parts of the country outside Metro areas and focusing on regional development, Go said that this will provide more employment and livelihood opportunities in the countryside, consistent with the long-term goals of the BP2 Program that is set to be fully implemented after the COVID-19 crisis.

“Layunin po ng programang ito na mabigyan ng bagong pag-asa ang mga Pilipino na may hinaharap silang maayos na kinabukasan pagkatapos ng krisis at tutulungan sila kung sakaling gusto nilang bumalik sa kanilang mga probinsya,” Go explained about the BP2 program which he primarily suggested then.

According to Go, an investment plan crafted towards regional development will aid in modernizing the Philippine economy, generating higher levels of decent jobs across the country, and helping solve societal issues on employment, housing, transportation, and safe and secure travel, among others.

Go hopes for the investment plan to contain a list of specific activities or categories of economic activity that can qualify for incentives under Executive Order No. 226 (s. 1987) or the “Omnibus Investments Code of 1987,” such as income tax holidays.

Due to the COVID-19 situation, Go said that the government could consider initially covering investments in the production of essential goods or provision of services critically needed in responding to the pandemic, as well as those that will mitigate its impacts.

Go, who is a proponent of the BP2 Program, noted that the lack of economic opportunities and good-paying jobs are reasons why countryside residents go to Metro Manila.

“Malaking dahilan po kung bakit napakaraming mga taga-probinsya ang lumuluwas ng Metro Manila ay para makahanap sila ng maayos at disenteng trabaho,” Go said.

“Ngunit marami sa kanila, nadala na o natagam sa Bisaya dahil paghihirap lang din po ang nadatnan nila sa Metro Manila imbes na mabuting buhay. Kung masisiguro rin po natin na tuluy-tuloy ang paglikha ng trabaho para sa mga kababayan sa mga probinsya, hindi na nila kailangang pumunta pa ng Metro Manila. Ito po ang dahilan kung bakit mahalaga ang partisipasyon ng lahat ng mga ahensya ng gobyerno at ng private sector dito,” he added.

 Go also mentioned that government synergy will be a key factor in helping Filipinos recover from the crisis. He said that the success of BP2 Program will also depend on the widespread and active participation of key government agencies in boosting economic opportunities in the provinces.

The BP2 program is a long-term plan of the government to decongest Metro Manila and boost countryside development. On May 6, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 114 which created the BP2 Council and institutionalized the program. The EO came about after Go authored Senate Resolution No. 380 which the Senate adopted on May 4.

The BP2 program has four key results areas to ensure inclusive and balanced urban and rural development, and the creation of resilient and sustainable communities: (1) the empowerment of local industries; (2) food security and agricultural productivity; (3) housing, social welfare, health, employment and human resource development; and (4) infrastructure development. 

At the height of more stringent COVID-19 quarantine measures, the BP2 program’s initial rollouts were suspended to give way to President Duterte’s directive to prioritize the Hatid Tulong initiative, a transportation assistance program which helps locally stranded individuals (LSIs) return to their provinces. 

“Despite temporarily suspending the subsequent rollouts, the preparations being conducted by concerned government agencies for the eventual implementation of the BP2 program remains in full swing,” Go previously said. 

“That is why coordination, cooperation, and collaboration between the national agencies and concerned local government units are crucial to ensure that the respective provinces are ready to accept BP2 beneficiaries, take care of their needs, provide economic opportunities, and ensure their safety and the safety of the rest of the communities in their area,” he added. 

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