Duterte institutionalizes Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has issued an order institutionalizing the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program, which aims to decongest Metro Manila and promote more robust regional development.
“The State shall ensure balanced regional development and equitable distribution of wealth, resources and opportunities through policies and programs that boost countryside development and inclusive growth, provide adequate social services, and promote full employment, industrialization and an improved quality of life in rural areas,” Duterte’s Executive Order No. 114 signed Wednesday stated.
Under the EO, a Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Council was established to be chaired by the Executive Secretary and with the Socio-Economic Planning Secretary as vice-chairperson.
The council shall “identify legislative, regulatory, and policy changes to promote balanced regional development and recommend to Congress the enactment of such reforms into law.”
It must also coordinate with local government units to formulate policies and implement the program’s components.
The program’s key areas are empowerment of local industries; food security and agricultural productivity; social welfare, health and employment; and development of infrastructure.
The funding requirements of its pipeline or existing programs, activities or projects (PAPs) shall be identified by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) or sourced from the agency heads’ respective appropriations.
The Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Council shall submit a bi-annual report on the implementation of the program to the President.
The Senate on Monday adopted a resolution sponsored by Duterte’s long-time aide-turned-Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, urging the executive department to formulate and implement a “Balik Probinsya” program.
Go reintroduced the program in a bid to decongest Metro Manila, which he said was a “long-term solution” to current problems that have affected the country’s ability to address the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Local government officials, however, raised concerns over the implementation of the program, saying it will not be easy amid the health crisis. Several of them stressed that providing jobs and housing will be key to enticing the public in returning to the provinces.
To recall, a Balik Probinsya program – under the National Convergence Initiatives for Sustainable Rural Development – was also implemented during the administration of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to support urban poor and provide more opportunities to uplift their standards of living.
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