PH gov’t institutionalizes ‘Balik Probinsya’ program

President Rodrigo Duterte has institutionalized the “Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa” (BP2) program, a pet project of his former aide, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, that aims to decongest Metro Manila.

Duterte on Wednesday signed Executive Order No. 114 which aims “to ensure balanced regional development and equitable distribution of wealth, resources and opportunities through policies and programs that boost countryside development and inclusive growth, provide adequate social services, and promote full employment, industrialization and an improved quality of life in rural areas.”

The EO creates a BP2 Council to ensure a whole-of-government action of the implementation of the BP2 program.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea will serve as the BP2 chairperson while Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua will be his vice chair.

Members of the committee will be secretaries and other officials of at least 20 concerned agencies.

The council will be tasked to formulate within 30 days the guidelines necessary to implement this order, including the BP program framework and at the same time provide overall direction in the implementation of the BP program.

It will also have the powers and functions to identify legislative, regulatory, and policy changes to promote balanced regional development and recommend to the Congress the enactment of such reforms into law and engage, consult and coordinate with local government units in the formulation of policies, and implementation of the components of the BP program.

As for the BP2 program framework, it will be divided in four key areas — empowerment of local industries; food security and agricultural productivity; social welfare, health, and employment; and development of infrastructure.

The framework components will be categorized as short-term, medium-term, and long-term programs, activities, or projects (PAPs).

Funding for the BP2 program will be charged against existing appropriations of the member agencies of the council, and from sources to be identified by the Department of Budget and Management.

However, funding requirements for the succeeding years shall be included in the respective budgets of government agencies implementing the BP2 program.

The council will be required to submit to the President, a bi-annual report on the implementation of this Order, including its accomplishments in terms of short-, medium- and long-term goals and budget utilization.

On Monday, the Senate adopted a resolution urging the Executive Department to formulate and implement a Balik Probinsya program.

Go, who sponsored the resolution, said the proposal also aims to better prepare the country in responding to future pandemics and other crises similar to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. (Azer Parrocha, PNA)