The government’s Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pagasa Program is open not only to those from Metro Manila who would want to return to their home provinces but also to those who would wish to go to other provinces for job opportunities.
In a dzBB radio interview, National Housing Authority general manager Marcelino Escalada Jr., the program’s executive director, however, said informal settler families will be prioritized.
“We are prioritizing the informal settlers. Aside from decongesting (the metro), that will also impact the environment and the waterways,” he said.
“We are not only trying to decongest Metro Manila, but we will try to give job opportunities (in the countryside),” he said.
Under Executive Order 114, President Rodrigo Duterte institutionalized the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program Council to decongest the National Capital Region – where there are nearly 13 million of the country’s population of 108 million people – and promote robust regional development.
According to Escalada, the council had been flooded with at least 33,000 applicants who wish to return to their provinces and those who would want to work in the countryside.
Among those who applied are 4,000 Leyteños “who want to depart from Metro Manila.”
Under the program, Bataan can offer 1,000 new jobs under the program, while Palayan City (Nueva Ecija) can employ 500 people, he said.
Once an applicant is approved, it would only take 10 to 15 days for her or his relocation, he added.
“By end of the year, 60,000 (applicants) will be a challenging figure for 2020,” he said.
The provinces to participate in the program are Leyte, Bohol, Samar, Camarines Sur and six others, of which five are from Mindanao.
“We have redefined the meaning of balik probinsya. It does not necessarily mean the provinces where one came from but speaking of provinces where there are established opportunities,” Escalada said.
Those seeking employment in the provinces may apply and enroll in the program, he stressed.
He assured the program’s uprooted beneficiaries that the council had partnered with different agencies to help respond to the needs of their family members, including transfer of voter’s registration.
In its pilot test, 112 beneficiaries have to be relocated to the provinces with only two of them having no homes to live in, he said.
“Those without any house where they would be taken would be provided with a 24-month rental subsidy. That period would be enough for them and for the NHA to position to build homes for them,” he said.
The council is expecting one million metro residents to join the program.
Most of the applicants were from Samar, Bohol, Leyte, Negros provinces, and southern and eastern Samar who could have migrated to the metro after super typhoon “Yolanda” flattened Eastern Samar in November 2013.
The other metro’s residents who availed themselves of the program were from Bukidnon, Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte who could have been affected by insurgency.