Go urges gov’t to prepare for new normal

April 23, 2020
Bong Go

SENATOR Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go appealed to the national government to prepare ‘balik probinsiya’ programs by providing incentives and livelihood opportunities to Filipinos who wish to relocate to the provinces after the state of public health emergency and the enhanced community quarantine measures are lifted.

“Paghandaan na natin ang ‘new normal’ at isa sa pinaka importanteng hakbang na dapat nating gawin ay ang paglilipat ng mga tao mula sa mga siyudad papunta sa mga probinsiya,” he said.

He stressed that the effort to decongest Metro Manila is becoming relevant now more than ever as the country struggles to contain the further spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Ngayon, mas nararamdaman natin ang matagal nang pinupunto ng Pangulo na kailangan talaga i-develop ang iba pang probinsiya para mabawasan ang tao sa Metro Manila. Masyadong masikip dito, mabilis kumalat ang sakit. Masyado ring maraming tao, hirap na hirap tayong maalagaan lahat ng apektado,” Go said.

Go pointed out that the high density of communities in Metro Manila amplifies the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and also slows down the efficiency of the government to provide assistance to all affected constituents.

Go emphasized that aside from responding to the immediate needs of the people, such as health care and social assistance at this time of crisis, the government must also put importance on long-term solutions to current problems that have adversely affected the country’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 health crisis.

“Marami tayong natututunan sa krisis na ito, tulad ng hirap na dulot ng pagkakumpol kumpol ng tao sa mga siyudad. Simulan na nating paghandaan at tuluyan na nating aksyunan ang isyu na ito at huwag nang intayin na mas lumala pa ang problema,” Go emphasized.

The Senator specifically pointed out that the lack of urban planning and rural development has in some way contributed to the spread of the virus in congested areas and has also affected the distribution of resources in different parts of the country.

“Binubuhos natin ang resources natin ngayon sa mga siyudad kasi nandoon karamihan ng may sakit at doon rin karamihan ng mahihirap. Ginagawa natin ang lahat para hindi kumalat ang sakit sa ibang probinsiya dahil alam natin na kapag nangyari ito, kukulangin na tayo,” Go said.

The Senator stressed that when the time comes that the enhanced community quarantine can already be lifted, the government should be ready to move Filipino families out of Metro Manila by providing them the means and incentives to finally move back to the provinces.

According to Go, if this move becomes a national priority, it would require the government to provide transportation and livelihood options to those who have agreed to go back to their provinces for good.

Go suggested that this initiative must be implemented only when the COVID-19 outbreak has been controlled. Upon implementation, this strategy will also require local government units to enforce necessary quarantine measures and mass testing for COVID-19 to ensure that those who will be relocated will not be carriers of the disease.

“Ilipat natin ang mga tao sa tamang panahon o kapag sinabi na ng ating health experts na safe na. Pero ngayon palang, paghandaan na natin ito dahil kung hahayaan lang natin na patuloy na magsikip ang mga tao sa Kamaynilaan, mas mataas ang tyansa na manumbalik na naman ang pagkalat ng virus,” Go explained.

Go also said that this move would make it easier for national agencies and LGUs to provide assistance to Filipino families when necessary since government resources will be scattered and equitably distributed to the regions. In effect, it will unburden overpopulated LGUs and would also result to additional resources for the countryside.

“Ihanda natin ang mga probinsiya kapag lumipat na ang mga tao doon. Dapat masigurado na may kapasidad ang mga probinsya na maalagaan sila at mabigyan ng matitirhan, makakain, at ikabubuhay. Mapapagaan rin natin ang pinapasan ng mga siyudad kapag nabawasan ang tao sa lugar nila,” he added.

Go said that he recognizes the fact that this will not be an easy feat given the massive preparations needed to be undertaken to implement the move in such limited time. He however emphasized that decongesting Metro Manila and other metropolitan areas has to be done immediately to put an end to recurring problems such as worsening traffic, uneven development, poor sanitation, poor health care and overpopulation in urban areas.

“Kung hindi natin ito aksyunan agad, hindi matatapos ang problema natin at lalong hindi mararamdaman ang development sa probinsya,” he said emphasizing that development in other regions, especially in rural areas, will be easier achieved if the country starts taking steps to decongest its urban areas.

According to reports, a number of LGU officials have already echoed this recommendation as the number of informal settlers in urban areas continues to grow. This problem has been more pronounced when COVID-19 hit the country.

“Nakikita na rin ng ibang mga LGUs na nahihirapan na silang alagaan ang lahat sa panahon ngayon ng COVID-19. Gusto na rin nilang umuwi ang mga informal settlers sa kanilang mga probinsya,” Go said.

In addition, Go is also encouraging investors to bring their businesses to the province. This will further encourage development in the countryside because gainful employment opportunities will already be available where they live.

“Hahanapan natin ng paraan upang ganahan ang mga negosyanteng mag-invest o mag-expand sa mga probinsya para naroon na rin ang trabaho at hindi na kailangan ng mga Pilipino doon na magpunta pa sa Metro Manila at lumayo sa kanilang mga pamilya,” the Senator said.

“Kami po ni Pangulong Duterte ay probinsiyano rin. Taga-Davao po kami. Doon po kami lumaki at tulad ng ibang mga probinsyano, doon rin namin nais bumalik pagkatapos ng aming pagseserbisyo sa bayan,” he added.