DIPOLOG CITY, Zamboanga del Norte – Various regional line agencies in Region 9 committed their full support to the “Balik Probinsiya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program”, proposed by Senator Christopher Lawrence Go and supported by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chair Secretary Emmanuel Piñol pointed out the BP2 program intends to lure or entice people to go back to their provinces with a promise of a better life.

“The program is an admission of our government that for so long our national development has been biased in favor of the urban centers. Inequitable shares of government & national resources resulted in uneven growth of the country and people leave the countryside to find jobs in Metro Manila, other big cities or even abroad; the countryside is underdeveloped with low productivity,” he said.

Earlier, Zamboanga del Norte has agreed to establish the first Rural Resettlement Model for informal urban dwellers who want to participate in the said program.

In a consultation meeting on Wednesday (May 20), eight national line agencies vowed to help Zamboanga del Norte in their undertakings under the program.

For the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) IX, they said they are receptive to any of the program's undertaking and they are very much willing to help in the implementation. The agency also expressed concern on the same program from the previous administration which didn’t prosper as there was no housing and livelihood assistance provided.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) IX also vowed to prepare livelihood programs and will be in charge of the profiling of the applicants as to what training will suit their skills.

“We will prepare allowances and tool kits and we also have training on entrepreneurship for business. We encourage other partner agencies to give our loans and support to sustain the BP2 Program. We, in Zamboanga del Norte, are taking the challenge,” the agency committed.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) IX will incorporate their existing programs to BP2 like National Greening Program and National Forest Protection Program to provide livelihood opportunities.

On the other hand, the Department of Education (DepEd) IX, assured that under the program, the families don’t need to worry because we will give access to education especially students (grade school and high school).

The Department of Health (DOH) IX, also expressed their full support by providing assistance to capacitate the people and equip them with a health facility.

“We already have a system to address the health concerns of the people in Zamboanga del Norte, rest assured that DOH is supportive of this endeavor,” the agency vowed.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) IX, vowed to provide internet connectivity to the areas where BP2 will be implemented as well as computer services and ICT/digital jobs training where applicants can get online jobs.

Meanwhile, Secretary Piñol said that Assistant Secretary Carlos Magnaye of Department of Tourism (DOT) suggested creating agri-tourism communities in the human settlements under BP2 Program.

“DOT has funds for tourism road facilities. Secretary Berna Puyat is really pushing for farm tourism and we can incorporate farm tourism in the farming industry in Zamboanga de Norte under this program,” he added.

Lastly, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) IX, committed to providing livelihood and starter kits for BP2 programs like the Pondo sa Paghahanapbuhay at Ginhawa and Negosyo sa Barangay.

For his part, Governor Roberto Uy said the province heartily accepted the program of President Duterte and vowed to provide economic-wise houses fit for a “barrio” so families will earn for their living.

“Let us not fear; we must go out of our comfort zone and challenge this problem. If all Municipal Mayors in Zamboanga will have teamwork, we will succeed,” he said.

Furthermore, Secretary Piñol said that the impact BP2 program in Zamboanga del Norte, for instance, would be a refocus in the use of resources of the government to the countryside for total and inclusive development.

“If people won’t flock to metropolitan cities, the country will have fewer problems of traffic/congestion, housing, pollution, and others,” he further said.

“If the countryside will have more people (provided with roads, bridges, and income opportunities) then you will have higher productivity.

With more people participating in agriculture and fisheries as the two most important activities in the countryside, the country will have sufficient food supply,” he added.

Currently, Zamboanga del Norte has the highest number of BP2 program applications in Mindanao with 903 applicants followed by Davao del Sur – 511, Misamis Oriental – 474, and Lanao del Norte – 460.

“In Mindanao, I urge my fellow workers in the government that we should focus on self-reliance and sustainability in the implementation of this program or else like other programs, this would fail,” Piñol stressed.

He also added that MinDA, with the help of other agencies and donor partners, will focus on livelihood programs to complement the infrastructure program of Governor Uy.

“Our target will be within the next 3 years, Zamboanga del Norte will be drawn out from the list of 20 poorest provinces in the country,” he added.

Piñol also said that before the end of May, the provincial government must have identified the family beneficiaries as the National Housing Authority (NHA) has downloaded the money for the house construction to Zamboanga del Norte.

“So that on the first week of June, heads of families are already working on the construction as we targeted the completion by September,” he added.

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