Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go joined member-officials of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Council in sending off beneficiaries who qualified for the first pilot roll out on Wednesday, May 20.

There were 111 beneficiaries, roughly comprised of 85 families, who embarked on their journey back to Leyte. These beneficiaries are composed of mostly heads of their families, and are part of the 3,371 identified applicants who expressed intent to go back to their homes in various municipalities in the province of Leyte.

“Natutuwa ako na ngayong araw ay nasimulan na natin ang pilot testing ng BP2 Program. Nakikita natin ang efficiency ng implementasyon ng programang ito na ating inihahandog para sa mga Pilipino. May political will ang ating gobyerno… importante na nasimulan na natin ito,” Go said.

“Tinitingnan din natin sa pilot testing na ito kung ano pa ang dapat nating i-improve sa BP2 program nang para sa gayon ay magiging mas matagumpay ito sa mga susunod na mga rollout natin sa iba’t iba pang parte ng bansa,” the Senator added.

Go, who is the proponent of the BP2 program, said that this initiative aims to give hope for a better future for Filipinos, especially after the current health crisis caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Last May 6, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order 114, institutionalizing the program and creating an inter-agency council to craft policies and programs and oversee their implementation.

“Pag-asa ang gusto nating ibigay sa ating mga kababayang Pilipino sa pagsisimula ulit nila sa probinsya. Tulungan natin sila para mabigyan ng pag-asa. Walang pilitan ito. Ang lahat ng aalis ngayon at uuwi sa probinsya ay kusang nagboluntaryo,” Go explained.

Before the BP2 beneficiaries of the roll out left for Leyte, their documents and health clearances were first processed and evaluated by concerned government agencies. Booths were set up where the National Housing Authority released boarding passes; Department of Health undertook the required PCR test for COVID-19 and presented their local health clearances; and the Department of Social Welfare and Development released transportation and financial allowance and other forms of assistance.

In addition, the Department of Transportation and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board prepared the five units of buses that were bound for Leyte.

“Kumpleto ang proseso na ginagawa ng ating mga ahensya. Sinisigurado natin na cleared silang umalis mula sa Manila, makakalagpas sa mga checkpoints, at maayos ang kanilang pagdating sa probinsya,” Go said.

The Office of Senator Bong Go also provided food packs, protective masks, and other forms of assistance to the beneficiaries.

The Department of Agriculture also provided beneficiaries with processed agricultural products as well as starter kits for backyard planting.

The DSWD will also immediately provide food packs upon arrival to their province. A livelihood grant will also be given within fifteen days from arrival. The Department of Interior and Local Government has also coordinated with the receiving local government unit to ensure that needed support and assistance will be provided when they arrive in their homes.

“Pagdating naman nila roon, handa rin ang mga ahensyang bigyan sila ng dagdag na ayuda at tulong para sa kanilang magiging kabuhayan, pabahay, trabaho, edukasyon, pagkain, kalusugan at iba pa,” he added.

On the other hand, preparations are also underway for the other pilot testings to other provinces. The target number of Filipinos who will go home to the provinces will be around 100-300 for every roll out, depending on the capacity of the receiving LGUs. Health protocols will be followed and similar government assistance shall be provided for every roll out.

“Pinili natin ang probinsya ng Leyte bilang unang destinasyon dahil sila ang may pinakamataas na numero ng aplikante,” he said, adding that the provincial government of Leyte was also one of the first to signify its readiness to accept returning residents.

The other nine provinces that have the highest number of registered beneficiaries are Samar, Negros Occidental, Zamboanga del Norte, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Northern Samar, Camarines Sur, Pangasinan and Masbate.

“Trabaho na ng gobyerno kung papaano kayo pauuwiin. Bibigyan kayo ng transportation at pagkain. I-eendorse kayo sa regional offices para i-assess kung ano pang kabuhayan na pwede ninyong gawin,” he said.

“Basta ang gobyerno gagawin ang trabahong ito para matulungan ang mga Pilipinong interesado nang umuwi sa probinsya. Ang mga tao naman, gagawin o pag-iisipan nalang nila ay kung lilipat sila,” he added.

Meanwhile, in a live interview during the event, Go cited the political will of President Rodrigo Duterte as an important factor in ensuring the program’s success.

“Ako po, bilang mambabatas, isa akong proponent na nagpropose kay Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ng programang ito. May mga nagsasabi po na may katulad na programa na na ginawa dati pa ngunit hindi nagtagumpay. Ang sabi ko, ngayon may political will na i-implementa ang programang gaya nito,” Go said.

“Sa katunayan, pinirmahan agad ni Pangulong Duterte ang Executive Order 114. (Nagbuo agad ng council) composed of 17 departments and more. Nadagdagan pa po ang mga ahensya at magtutulungan lahat (para ma-utilize ng maayos) ang resources ng gobyerno para sa tagumpay ng programang ito,” he added.

In view of the current pandemic, Go also mentioned that more and more Filipinos in Metro Manila have been expressing their willingness to go back to their respective provinces and start their lives anew.

“Dati, walang gustong mag-implement dahil walang gustong umuwi noon. Ngayon, marami ang gustong umuwi dahil nadala o natagam na sa hirap na dulot ng krisis. Ngayon kasi, apektado sila at naipit sila sa sitwasyon dito. ‘Yung iba, stranded. Meron ding hindi nakatanggap ng ayuda dahil ang pamilya nila, sa probinsya nakalista,” he said.

“Kaya naman bilang isa ring probinsyano, hinihikayat ko ang iba pang mga Pilipino na ikonsidera na bumalik na sa probinsya. May mga programa pong inihanda ang gobyerno para sa inyo,” Go added.

Go emphasized that the program is voluntary. “Wala pong pilitan ito. Kung ayaw niyo, hindi kayo pipilitin ng gobyerno. Kung gusto niyo, matutulungan po kayo. Binibigyan kayo ni Pangulong Duterte ng bagong pag-asa.”

“Lahat naman po tayo gustong makabangon sa krisis na ito. Lahat tayo nagnanais ng bagong pag-asa para sa ating bayan. Magtulungan at magbayanihan po tayo. Tulad ng mensahe ni Pangulong Duterte, starting fresh in the provinces will give Filipinos HOPE for a better future after this COVID-19 crisis,” he said in previous statements.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.