DAVAO CITY - The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), a member of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program, has completed a series of consultations with local government units (LGUs) and regional directors of line agencies for the implementation of the program in Mindanao.

In a statement on Sunday, Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said that after their trip in Lanao Del Norte to consult with Governor Imelda Dimaporo, several mayors, and Kalawit, Zamboanga del Norte Mayor Salvador Antohado, Jr. on May 27 and 28 respectively, their team has travelled by land from Mindanao to Manila over the weekend for a series of meetings with Senator Christopher Lawrence Go.

Go is the main proponent of the program, and the BP2 program council secretariat headed by National Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager Jun Escalada.

“I will present to them the concerns of the LGUs, specifically Lanao del Norte and Zamboanga del Norte, so that these will be taken into consideration as we stage the Roll-Out of the three model resettlements.

Let me clarify that, contrary to earlier reports that Balik Probinsya has already started in Mindanao, not a single family has yet returned to Mindanao under the program,” Piñol said.

He said that the program is a noble undertaking which will correct the flawed development planning of government for so long.

He assured the public that with his long experience in governance and involvement in crisis management, he will not initiate a program without the needed consultations with all parties involved.

“The most important guiding philosophy I have embraced in governance is to build programs from the ground up and that the most solid foundations of any program are those which are made up of the dreams and aspirations of people who will be affected,” Piñol added.

He said that MinDA will see to it that the program will succeed in Mindanao and as he hoped that they will be able to provide a template for ‘Balik Probinsya’ communities in other parts of the country.

Balik Probinsiya and Hatid Probinsiya explained

"Balik Probinsya " program is a proof that previous government planners and economic managers were wrong in concentrating development in urban centers while neglecting the needs of the poor in the countryside.

Piñol added that the program which now employs the "whole-of-nation-approach" with 22 government departments and agencies involved is not just a reaction to the problems seen in the containment of a pandemic like the coronavirus disease 2019 (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," Piñol said the government has to focus more resources like funds for farm to market roads, irrigation, storage, and processing facilities and ensure market access.

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

Hatid Probinsiya on the other hand, is a program that facilitates the return of stranded individuals in Metro Manila to their respective home provinces during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said it is a “short-term, humanitarian effort” that sends stranded people, including displaced Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), travelers, students and tourists, who could not return to their provinces because of quarantine restrictions

Unlike the Balik Probinsya, it gives incentives and livelihood to Filipinos who wish to be permanently settled in provinces after the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) measures are lifted.

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