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(Balik Probinsya Organic Recycling Model courtesy of Joey Remicilla, Kidapawan City Tourism Office)

DAVAO CITY – Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said Saturday (May 16) that the "Balik Probinsya " program pushed by the Duterte Administration, through the initiative of Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, is a stark proof that government planners and economic managers in the past were so wrong in concentrating development in the urban centers while neglecting the needs of the poor in the countryside.

Piñol said that it is not just a recycled program "throwing poor families back to the countryside" as described by a former UP Chancellor.

He said that the program, which now employs the Whole-of-Nation-Approach with 22 departments and agencies involved, is not just a reaction to the problems seen in the containment of a pandemic like the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in over-populated areas, but an admission by the government of flawed policies in the equitable sharing of government resources.

“This has resulted in a massive migration to the big cities, or even overseas, and stunted the development of the countryside causing very low productivity and widespread poverty. This program is the start of the shift of development efforts to the countryside where it is most needed and where the poverty level is high,” he said.

To ensure the success of "Balik Probinsya," he added that the government has to focus more resources like funds for farm to market roads, irrigation, storage, and processing facilities and ensure market access.

Also, Piñol pointed out that more economic opportunities must be created in rural areas with appropriate government incentives.

“This is the very reason why right after Senator Go announced the "Balik Probinsya" Program, I and the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), the agency which I head, immediately jumped in and started working,” he added.

He also said that to implement the program, government economic planners and budget managers will have to increase Mindanao's share of the national budget pie from the current 12 percent (16 percent according to the national government) to a more equitable share.

“I and MinDA (formerly Mindanao Economic Development Council ) have long fought for this, from the time I was Governor of Cotabato and President of Mindanao Governors and Mayors League up until I became Secretary of Agriculture and now MinDA Chairman,” Piñol said.

Soon, there may be no need for the women from Mindanao to work in the Middle East and there will be no need for us to depend on foreign sources for our food supply, he added.

Joey Recimilla, City Tourism Officer, Kidapawan
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