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10,000 Filipino Apply for Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program

According to the National Housing Authority (NHA), around 10,000 Metro Manila residents have already enrolled in the government’s “Balik Probinsya” program.

The program aims to decongest Metro Manila and promote more robust regional development.

The program was launched just last May 6, Duterte Executive Order No. 114 stated, “The State shall 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.”

NHA General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. said Wednesday (May 6) that he sees a “very positive indication” on the number of interested employees for the program.

“(It is) very promising because three days or four days thereafter, I already see 10,000 enrollees all over Metro Manila going to the top 10 provinces and municipalities of our country,” he said in an interview with ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo.

Among these 10 provinces are Leyte, Bohol, Samar, and Camarines Sur, according to the NHA official.

Escalada said the agency is currently validating the identity of the online applicants. He added that in the application form, they are also being asked about which livelihood they intend to engage with once they reach their provinces.

“That’s what we want to focus on. Do they intend to engage in fishing, farming, setting up sari-sari stores, or driving? There are ten options, which are listed in a drop-down so that government agencies involved can have specific interventions,” he said.

Escalada also said he will ensure that beneficiaries of the program will automatically have their voter registration transferred by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

He also noted that coordination with provincial local government units (LGUs) is also necessary to ensure that they are ready to receive those who will return to the provinces.

“Above all, this is my latest infusion to the program. I will make sure that Comelec will automatically register the transfer of our countrymen from Metro Manila to the provinces, that they will be transferred immediately in terms of residency and registration,” he said.

Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario said the department is ready to offer housing units to qualified individuals who will return to provinces, saying there is an available inventory of units through NHA which are unoccupied and unawarded.

In the next 6 months, around one million residents from Metro Manila are expected to join the “Balik Probinsya” Program.