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DILG: ‘Balik Probinsya’ not same as ‘Hatid Probinsya’

MANILA, Philippines — People should not confuse the government’s “Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-Asa” program with its separate “Hatid Probinsya” program, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) clarified on Saturday.

Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya clarified that the two programs had different objectives and aimed to serve different clienteles.

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The Balik Probinsya program, he said, was a long-term program designed to help low-income families in Metro Manila resettle in their home provinces, especially those who live in overcrowded informal settlement areas.

Hatid Probinsya, on the other hand, is a “short-term, humanitarian effort” to send home residents stranded in Metro Manila due to travel restrictions imposed under the enhanced community quarantine.

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‘Ill-conceived’

The DILG official made the clarification after the Gabriela party list group criticized Balik Probinsya as “haphazard and ill-conceived” and proves government’s inability to protect and provide services to the marginalized, especially during this pandemic.

But Malaya said Gabriela erred in equating Balik Probinsya and Hatid Probinsya to be one and the same program.

“This is not a quick fix as Gabriela claims but a long-term solution to provide health-care and job opportunities in rural areas,” Malaya said, adding that the party list group was confusing two different programs.

The government rolled out the Balik Probinsya program through Executive Order No. 114, signed by President Duterte on May 6 and the government sent off the first batch of beneficiaries on May 20.

Hatid Probinsiya has also helped stranded people, including displaced overseas Filipino workers, students, travelers and simple tourists, who could not return to their provinces because of quarantine rules, said Malaya.

Three phases

But another leftist party list group, Anakpawis, argued that Balik Probinsya did not address issues that have led to systemic persecution of rural-based sectors in the country.

In a statement, former Anakpawis party list Rep. Ariel Casilao denounced the Balik Probinsya program because “it blabbers about balanced regional development” without providing solutions to the real reasons people migrate to Metro Manila and other urban centers.

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EO 114, which outlines the program, has three phases. In the “immediate” phase, those who wish to return to their provinces will be given aid, transportation and livelihood. The “mediate” phase promises decent jobs, a house and lot, the institutionalization of health and education services, and peace and order, while the final “long-term” phase includes the strengthening of urban renewal and rural development, as well as incentives for businesses that relocate to the provinces and the creation of a sustainable environment.

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