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EDITORIAL: Reality vs Dream

Just exactly what is the distinction between the government’s Balik Probinsya Balik Pagasa (BP2) program and Hatid Probinsya Project? This is being asked in the light of the confusion stirred on account of the misplaced usage of the terms interchangeably, especially among a number of media establishments.

It could have been less confusing had the personalities concerned taken the initiative to inquire about the distinguishing features. The predicament is markedly detected in the province of Camarines Sur.

In any case just to clear the air, it is pointed out that on June 10, this year, the Philippine News Agency (PNA) reported that BP2 Council Executive Director Marcelino Escalada Jr., who is also general manager of the National Housing Authority (NHA), said that “ Balik Probinsya program is a long-term program of the government intended for Metro Manila residents who want to return to their provinces “for good.”BP2 beneficiaries are provided certain packages and assistance upon return to their provinces.

Under the BP2 program, the government will introduce a sustainable project scheme and rationalized system of fiscal incentives for export-oriented and domestic-oriented enterprises, as well as support for micro, small and medium enterprises to qualified beneficiaries. The program has three phases of intervention: immediate, mediate, and long-term.

In the immediate phase, those who wish to return to their provinces will be provided transportation, cash assistance amounting to PHP15,000 and livelihood opportunity. The immediate ones are all interventions that are currently taken by the departments.

The mediate phase, PNA says, assures beneficiaries with decent jobs and house and lot, among others, and the institutionalization of health and education services. The mediate are the new programs which will be introduced by the departments in 2021 until 2022. The long-term phase includes the strengthening of urban development. It is more on long-term projects, the creation of the urban centers, the centralization of powers and tax incentives, the creation of economic zones and provision of employment.

On the other hand, the Hatid Probinsya initiative is a short-term humanitarian effort to assist residents stranded in Metro Manila due to travel restrictions imposed during the quarantine period. It is just (an) assistance. These are all stranded individuals, stranded tourists, students and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) due to lack of public transport in Metro Manila.

Stranded OFWs are urged to coordinate with the Department of Labor and Employment. Stranded students, on the other hand, are encouraged to coordinate with the Office of the President (OP), Presidential Management Staff (PMS), or the Department of Transportation (DOTr). Stranded tourists, meanwhile, may coordinate with the Department of Tourism (DOT).

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will assess and evaluate the stranded individuals. It will then provide recommendations and assistance to them.” The clarification was posted via social media.

That is a lesson learned from pronouncements about projects forthcoming particularly when it is yet a mere figment of imagination and therefore offering nothing but lip service. Proof? After so much publicity, implementation of BP2 has been ordered suspended by Malacañan due to want of resources. Mind you, it will take at least a decade before any of a target projects is taken from the drawing table. The Marawi Seige and Typhoon Yolanda experiences could serve as a reality guidepost.

Prematurely treating BP2 Program similar to Hatid Probinsya Program, muddles excessive expectations. Bluntly, it will take a decade to see BP2 come into fruition. Or are we witnessing another Malasakit Center project which until now has not established any improvement in providing health services.

Hatid Probinsya and Balik Probinsya are separated between reality and dream.

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