Implementation of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program has been suspended so that funds and resources intended for the project can be used for helping stranded individuals in Metro Manila get to the province, an official said on June 11.
According to National Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager Mareclino Escalada Jr., President Rodrigo Duterte gave a clear instruction to assist people who have been stranded during the COVID-19 pandemic due to quarantine restrictions.
“This was a clear instruction from the President, unahin pauwiin ang ating mga kababayan na stranded dito sa Maynila and these are the OFWs (overseas Filipino workers), the construction workers, ating mga turista at mga estudyante. That is the arrangement right now,” Escalada said in a televised briefing.
Escalada clarified that the program will resume once transportation becomes available again and the aforementioned stranded individuals have been helped. Prior to the suspension, Michelle Silvertino, a household helper working in Antipolo City, passed away while waiting for a provincial bus at the Cubao terminal.
“I foresee that in the next month, let’s say for example July, I think bababa na ang demand ng stranded and therefore [ang] Balik Probinsiya will now take our second rollouts by that time,” he said.
The temporary halt will also buy time for provincial local government units (LGUs) to prepare for the influx of incoming residents.
“We want to make sure that on one hand the LGUs are ready to receive their own constituents by then.”
Thousands of applicants have shown interest in the program, which has already seen the transfer of more than 100 individuals to Leyte.
The project, which is backed by Senator Bong Go, is meant to encourage Metro Manila residents to move to the province in order to decongest the region, as well as boost development in other provinces and areas in the country. In May, Duterte signed an executive order to create a council that will oversee the implementation of the program.