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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

‘Balik Probinsya’ top government priority in post-pandemic

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The proposal to grant incentives and livelihood assistance to Filipinos who want to return to their respective provinces after the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is the ‘top priority' of the government, Malacañang said on Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel, said the “Balik Probinsya” proposal of Senator Christopher Lawrence Go is now under discussion.

Roque said the government is finding ways to assist those who wish to return to their respective provinces subject to the quarantine requirements.

 Quarantine measures are currently in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Under the proposed “Balik Probinsya” program introduced by Go, Metro Manila residents who want to be relocated to their respective provinces after the COVID-19 outbreak will be provided free transportation and livelihood assistance.

The proposed relocation would begin once the pandemic is over.

Roque said the government is looking for best ways, including long-term solutions, to address the challenges that Filipinos are facing amid the health crisis.

Go earlier said the “Balik Probinsya” program is a long-term plan that intends to help the public adapt to the “new normal” after the COVID-19 crisis.

Go said his proposal would address overpopulation, traffic congestion and pollution in Metro Manila.

He added that the government would also be able to prepare for future possible disease outbreaks, other crises and natural disasters once the relocation program is implemented.

In a televised public address on April 23, President Rodrigo Duterte said the “Balik Probinsya” program is a good proposal because it would give hope to Filipinos who are in Metro Manila but want to be relocated.

The 2015 census revealed that Metro Manila is home to 12.87 million Filipinos.

Deliver aid, local officials told

Malacanang on Wednesday warned local government officials to effectively deliver all financial aid to poor families before the end of the month or face sanctions.

Roque said President Duterte recognizes the suffering of people living under quarantine restrictions and wants concerned local government officials to hasten the distribution of the emergency subsidy.

The President previously threatened government officials tasked to deliver emergency assistance that he would throw them in jail if they divert funds and goods allocated for Filipinos affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

IATF tackles cash subsidies

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) will discuss the possible continuation of distribution of emergency cash subsidies to poor families residing in areas that will be placed under general community quarantine (GCQ), Malacañang said on Wednesday.

The IATF-EID’s decision on the granting of cash aid to low-income households in areas under GCQ will be announced on Thursday (April 30), Roque said in a television interview.

More workers to get cash aid

The Department of Labor and Employment has realigned P1.5 billion of its 2020 budget in order to provide a one-time assistance of P5,000 to an additional 300,000 workers already processed under the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP).

The realignment was ordered by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to enable DOLE to assist more formal sector workers displaced by the COVID pandemic, which has further ballooned to over 2.3 million.

As of April 28, some 87,301 establishments reported that over 1.6 million of their workers were affected by temporary closures while 797,729 were on alternative work arrangements due to the quarantine being implemented to stop the spread of the virus.

With internally sourced funds, DOLE will now be able to assist a total of about 650,000 workers with P3.24 billion in total CAMP assistance.

Duque cites governors’ role

Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III underscored the governors’ vital roles in the war against COVID-19 towards establish a “new normal” while the world scrambles for cure to the highly-infectious lung disease.

“What is clear to us at this point is that this will require all of our commitments for long- haul solutions,” said Duque in a briefing with the League of Provinces of the Philippines.

“All of us will have to take on the role of public health leaders and managers to deliver our five-point Strategy to defeat COVID-19 and a new normal for the entire Philippines,” Duque said during the virtual conference attended by 44 incumbent governors.

The DOH’s five-point strategy are as follows: 1) Increase resilience, 2) Stop transmission, 3) Reduce contact rate, 4) Shorten duration of infectiousness, and 5) Enhance quality, consistency, and affordability of care provision.

Faster aid release to farmers sought

Senator Francis Pangilinan on Wednesday asked the government speed the release of financial aid to COVID quarantine-affected farmers by decentralizing disbursement from Land Bank of the Philippines.

The President’s fifth report to Congress submitted April 27 showed that the Department of Agriculture’s financial subsidy to rice farmers (FSRF) reached only 53,881 (or 9.11 percent) out of 591,246 targeted farmers, and P645 million of FSRF’s P3 billion has been utilized.

“The disbursement of the FSRF has been painfully slow because it is still centralized with Land Bank. The Bayanihan Law was passed with so much urgency precisely to fast-track help to those who need it most,” Pangilinan said. 

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