EDITORIAL: BlahBlah Lick Probinsya
Balik Probinsya is a long hibernating concept of decongesting the metropolis intended first and foremost to solve the ever worsening traffic problem. Apparently however concerned agencies have been exerting lip service to the problem, only to merit revived focus during electoral season.
Traditional politicians make almost next to impossible assurances of solving the NCR traffic mess, as if they are equipped with a magic wand. And when elections are over, the victors are confronted with reality. They look for all the reasons in the world to justify their failure. The Duterte administration is no exception.
Balik probinsya as a strategy to cut short the way towards decongesting Metro Manila is a knee jerk approach that is surely bound to fail. It is based on a panic situation. Such being the case, it presupposes that once things eventually normalize, people will tend to go back to the metropolis.
Opportunities for livelihood have not yet been systematically put in place. Those who left Metro Manila in a disorganized manner will find themselves jobless in the provinces. They will in fact be competing with the current work force within the locality. The provincial returnees might even find themselves being discriminated upon.
Balik Probinsya is worth a popular support. But lay the ground works first. It should never be used as a palliative, or as a cheap propaganda tool, especially during this time of extreme health crisis.
What industries have been established that would generate new employment opportunities? This is being raised in the light of the observation that to date there is no new industrial yet in sight anywhere within the entire region. In Camarines Sur particularly, no new ventures are in the implementation stage. To date, in the field of agriculture, nothing is worth citing. There used to be much talk about gabi mass production for export purposes. Today, all corners are silent about it.
In the field of agriculture, several subsectors are suffering from serious neglect. Rice production is leading nowhere primarily due to irrigation shortage. When harvest time comes, palay prices plummet. And with importers having a holiday, farmers suffer heavily. Corn production is also malingering, with farmers exposed at the mercy of traders during the peak of harvest season.
When it comes to animal industry, it is no secret that hog raisers continue to rail due to the African swine fever which sadly has been overshadowed by the corona virus pandemic. But the damage continues to confront the animal industry.
Poultry raisers are now complaining due to the steady fall of prices of their products. The problem is further multiplied by importation without control of poultry products. As to the fishery sector, it has long been in the doldrums. Despite the introduction of fishponds and fish cages, survival fisher folks continue being among the poorest of the poor, ever exposed to the harshness of natural occurrences, with no governmental protection at hand,
New plants intended to diversify processing of coconut products continue being a mere product of publicity. The points raised here are based on the assumption that the Balik Probinsya being advocated by the national leadership is meant to last long. If it is intended to only temporarily contain the rapid spread of Covid-19 it is most unfortunate.
Along this line, some concerns are raised: what livelihood opportunities have been readied for the provincial returnees and their dependents; where shall they seek shelter; how will their dependents be fed with their dignity intact?
It is only hoped that the advocates and adherents of the program do so in order that it does not end up as nothing but Blah blah Lick Probinsya just for the purpose of ingratiation.
Hailing back to the provinces Metro Manila-based families will lead to disaster and create complications. Like an anesthesia, it can render the people numb. Once the effect is over, the pain returns and unless the infection is eliminated, complications could worsen.