SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go expressed his support for the continuation and expansion of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-Asa (BP2) program. On Thursday, November 16, Go reminded the Department of Social Welfare and Development during the Senate plenary deliberations for their proposed 2024 budget to ensure that BP2 beneficiaries receive all the support and assistance due to them in accordance with the program guidelines.
The Senator raised concerns regarding reports that families who have returned to the provinces through the BP2 program only received transportation allowance and are still waiting for the livelihood grants committed to them by DSWD. In response, the DSWD assured that they will act on the matter and provide the support needed to the qualified BP2 beneficiaries in coordination with the respective local government units.
Families returning to their provinces under the BP2 Program may also receive community grants for livelihood, with local government units monitoring and supporting their progress, the DSWD explained.
Go emphasized the importance of the BP2 Program, noting that it was established through Executive Order (EO) No. 114, which was signed by former President Rodrigo Duterte. The Senate adopted a resolution in 2020, principally sponsored by Go, urging the executive department to formulate and implement a “Balik Probinsya” program given its significance in decongesting urban areas, promoting equitable opportunities and wealth distribution nationwide, and providing essential social services for those who wish to return to the provinces.
During the plenary session, Go engaged in a discussion with DSWD Secretary Rexlon “Rex” Gatchalian, through Sen. Imee Marcos who was sponsoring DSWD’s budget, to also seek clarification on the program’s continuity beyond the pandemic.
“Ito pong Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa, in fact, nagpasa rin kami ng resolusyon dito sa Senado noon… Executive Order po ‘yan na pinirmahan ni dating Pangulong Duterte. (To help Filipinos who wish to) return to the province giving them new hope… (this) is a socio-economic program by the Philippine government to reverse migration of people to Metro Manila and other urban areas who are originally from rural areas in the country,” cited Go.
“In our meeting, Secretary Rex, you gave us your commitment that the Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa Program will continue even after the pandemic… I would like to get an update lang po sa programang ito. Gaano ba karami ang natulungan natin through this program since its implementation?” Go asked.
In response, Gatchalian highlighted the program’s success and emphasized its importance in addressing the needs of families in Metro Manila who wish to go back to the provinces, particularly those considered as ‘street dwellers’ in urban areas.
Gatchalian expressed DSWD’s commitment to the program, describing it as “a very good program that we inherited, that we plan to keep.”
To further enhance the program’s impact, Gatchalian also disclosed that a new initiative called “Pang-abot” is being pursued to build on the BP2 program’s success and expand its scope to focus on interventions for families residing in street situations.
The initiative involves identifying and assisting those living under bridges and on the streets, with the aim of providing them with opportunities for a better life similar to what is provided through the existing BP2 Program.
In conclusion, Go expressed his hopes that the program continues to evolve and expand, stressing that the such a program stands as a testament to the government’s dedication to providing sustainable solutions for our fellow Filipinos affected by the challenges brought about by various crisis situations.