SENATOR Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go thanked and commended the overwhelming cooperation and response of the different government agencies and units, especially the provincial government of Leyte headed by Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla as the 111 beneficiaries of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program finally arrived in the province on late Thursday evening, May 21.
“Maraming salamat sa lahat ng tumulong at sumuporta sa BP2 program, lalong-lalo na sa ating pinakaunang launch ng pilot batch. Maraming salamat sa iba’t ibang ahensya ng gobyerno at sa lokal na pamahalaan ng Leyte,” Go said.
“Hindi man agarang makaka-settle in ang ating mga beneficiaries dahil sa mga health measures na pinapatupad ng Leyte LGU, tulad ng swab testing at quarantine, panatag ang loob ko na tuluy-tuloy na ang pagbibigay ng suporta para sa bagong buhay ng ating mga kapatid na Pilipinong naroon,” he added.
After more than a day of travel from Metro Manila, the pilot batch of BP2 finally arrived safely in Leyte. They were officially welcomed by local officials led by Petilla at the assessment center inside the Government Center in Candahug, Palo, Leyte.
According to Petilla, “The province of Leyte is happy to welcome back the Balik Probinsya, Balik Pag-asa Program beneficiaries.”
Petilla added that each returnee will receive livelihood assistance based on their skills and needs. Returnees underwent disinfection and swab testing. While waiting for the results, they are temporarily housed at their respective municipal or city quarantine facilities. If their swab test result is negative, a beneficiary will be allowed to go home, otherwise he or she will be treated in a provincial medical facility. This is to ensure that there will be no health risks involved due to the threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in the country.
In an interview, Loreta Banario, Provincial Director of the Technical Education and Skill Development Authority, assured that the beneficiaries will be given a customized program assistance by TESDA, such as scholarships and skills training appropriate to local industry demands.
The Leyte governor also added that they will make sure returnees will be safe, especially with the discrimination that may arise due to the health crisis.
“We should not discriminate the returnees as they are our co-Leyteños,” the governor added.
Meanwhile, Go added that although the first batch has successfully traversed the journey, the work to make the BP2 program a success has only started.
“Simula pa lang ito at marami pang dapat trabahuin para maging mas matagumpay ang BP2 program,” Go said.
“Muli, hinihimok ko ang mga kababayan kong Pilipino na nasa malalaking syudad na kung nais ninyong manirahan na sa ating mga probinsya, meron nang programa ang gobyerno na tutulong sa inyong magsimula muli at harapin ang mga hamon ng buhay na may bagong pag-asa,” he added.
The Senator, who is the proponent of the program, said that the BP2 program is voluntary. It is intended not only to decongest highly urbanized cities but also to pave the way for the development in the provinces by encouraging Filipinos to go home, investors to expand their business, and improve basic services, such as healthcare.
“Hindi ito pilitan. Sa gusto lang umuwi ng probinsya, sisiguraduhin ng gobyerno na mabibigyan kayo ng bagong pag-asa at mas maayos na buhay kung piliin ninyong magbalik probinsya,” Go reiterated.
The Senator also credits the strong political will of the current administration in making the BP2 program a reality through Executive Order 114 which mandates the execution of the BP2 program.
“Whole-of-government approach tayo. Nagkaroon na rin tayo ng inter-agency council na nangangasiwa at nagpapatupad ng executive order na ito para maaksyunan ang hinaing ng mga Pilipino,” Go added.
Due to the initial success of the pilot batch of the BP2 program, Go is expecting more batches to follow.
The Senator echoed the words of President Rodrigo Duterte and said that the beneficiaries of the BP2 program will start fresh in the provinces, and that it will give Filipinos new hope for a better future especially after the COVID-19 crisis.
“Sa pagbabalik nila sa probinsya, mabibigyan natin sila ng bagong buhay, bagong pag-asa,” he said.