Beneficiaries of the “Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa” (BP) program are hoping more will have the courage to leave Metro Manila behind and improve their lives through the national government program.
Michael Angelo Tel and his pregnant partner, Angeline Calibat, went back to Barangay Guinobatan in Bato, Catanduanes province, in early April and are now waiting for the rest of the BP2 assistance.
“Sana po mapagpatuloy ‘yung Balik Probinsya program para sa mga taong nahihirapan sa Maynila, lalo na yung mga nagpunta lang doon para maghanap ng trabaho (I hope the Balik Probinsya program will continue for those people who are struggling in Manila, especially those who went there just to look for work),” he recently told the Philippine News Agency in a text message.
Carlito Nabus is thankful that he would not have to spend his meager savings to achieve a prosperous and comfortable life in Camarines Sur.
Through the BP2 program, he received food processing and cooking equipment from the Department of Trade and Industry and some 50 heads of chicken from the Department of Agriculture to start his poultry business.
His wife got sewing equipment from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
“They provided everything we need to start anew,” Nabus said in a recent interview.
His son, Joshua, has adjusted to life in the province.
“At first, it was a big change. But this program took us out of poverty and now I can study and live well,” he said in Filipino.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 114 on May 6, 2020 to institutionalize the BP2 program, with the primary goal of decongesting Metro Manila.
The program offers immediate assistance, including transportation allowance, food, hassle-free transactions for travel requirements, and emergency cash aid until beneficiaries safely return to their home provinces.
As long-term assistance, beneficiaries are given livelihood and employment opportunities, transitory support packages, and shelter assistance.
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, the brains behind the program, is hopeful the next administration will consider the benefits of the program, especially among those hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Marami na pong nadalang mga kababayan natin lalo na nitong nagdaang pandemya. Maraming nasa sidewalk na nakatira dahil sa hirap ng buhay. Hirap na hirap na po sila. Wala silang matakabuhan, wala silang kamag-anak dito pero ‘pag nasa probinsya na po sila, makakaasa tayo meron silang malalapitan doon (They regretted leaving the province, especially during the pandemic. Many lived on sidewalks because of poverty. They really struggled. They have nobody to turn to here, no relatives. In the province, they can get a lot of help),” Go said in a previous interview.
The BP2 program has so far facilitated the return of 729 beneficiaries to home provinces from May 2020 to April this year. (PNA)