‘Balik Probinsya’ suspended to prioritize stranded Filipinos in Metro Manila
MANILA, Philippines — The government’s “Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa” (BP2) program has been suspended to prioritize the return of stranded individuals in Metro Manila to their respective provinces, National Housing Authority (NHA) general manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. said Thursday.
Due to lack of public transportation caused by the lockdown measures, Escalada said they will first assist overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), students, and tourists who do not have the capacity to stay in Metro Manila.
“Since nag mix up na ang population, as a matter of strategy, na i-suspend muna ang ating roll out for the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa, to give way,” Escalada, who is the program’s executive director, said during a televised briefing.
(Since the population has been mixed up, as a matter of strategy, we suspended the roll out of Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa to give way.)
“This was a clear instruction from the President. Unahin, pauwiin na ang ating mga kababayan na stranded dito sa Maynila. These are the OFWs, our construction workers, ating mga turista at mga estudyante,” he added.
(This was a clear instruction from President Rodrigo Duterte. Prioritize the return of the stranded countrymen in Manila. These are the OFWs, construction workers, tourists, and students.)
Escalada said the stranded individuals will be accommodated under the Hatid Probinsya initiatives where either land, sea, or air transport is provided.
“Pagdating ng panahon na tapos na itong mga problema ng stranded and at the same time, meron nang available transportation, they can go back to their provinces by themselves,” he added.
(When the time comes that the problem of stranded individuals is over and there is available transportation, they can go back to their provinces themselves.)
The Balik Probinsya program seeks to decongest Metro Manila and promote more robust regional development.
But after its first roll out last month, reports surfaced that it brought COVID-19 in two municipalities in Leyte.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, however, clarified that the two returnees in Leyte were part of the government’s Hatid Probinsya program.
Hatid Probinsya is just a “short-term, humanitarian effort” while the Balik Probinsya is a “long-term” resettlement program for Metro Manila residents who want to return to their provinces.
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