NegOcc, Bacolod Officials Welcome ‘Balik Probinsya’ Program


Top officials of Negros Occidental and Bacolod City have welcomed the “Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa” (BP2) program that seeks to decongest Metro Manila or the National Capital Region.

Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said on Thursday that such initiative has long been proposed and he hopes it would be carried out this time.

“We will just have to wait for the guidelines. I hope this time it will push through. For Negros Occidental, there are other industries that we need, especially manufacturing,” Lacson said.

He said the province is “very fortunate” that it still has the sugar industry that has “survived” after the province was placed under enhanced community quarantine due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

“We have the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector still working. I feel that maybe if Negros Occidental could open up a new industry through this ‘Balik Probinsya’, it would be in the field of manufacturing,” Lacson added.

Meanwhile, Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia also expressed support for the BP2 program as he underscored the need for close coordination between the concerned national agencies and the local government units in adhering to health protocols for those going back to their home provinces.

“We welcome (them). There is no doubt about that. That is their right, they belong to Bacolod and they belong to their respective cities,” Leonardia said.

On Wednesday, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order 114 to institutionalize the BP2 program pushed by Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

The BP2 initiative aims “to ensure balanced regional development and equitable distribution of wealth, resources, and opportunities through policies and programs that boost countryside development and inclusive growth, provide adequate social services, and promote full employment, industrialization, and improved quality of life in rural areas.”

EO 114 creates the BP2 Council to ensure a whole-of-government action on the implementation of the BP2 program.

The council is headed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, while Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua serves as vice-chair.

Members are the secretaries and other officials of at least 20 concerned agencies.

The BP2 Council is tasked to formulate within 30 days the guidelines necessary to implement this order, including the BP2 program framework and at the same time provide overall direction in its implementation.

The program framework is divided into four key areas: empowerment of local industries; food security and agricultural productivity; social welfare, health, and employment; and development of infrastructure.  (Nanette Guadalquiver ndb via pna)

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