One of the possible reasons why the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak is difficult for us is the fact that business districts are compressed in and around Metro Manila. Former Presidential Aide and now Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, proposed and presented the Balik Probinsya Program; which will help in the revitalization of the agricultural sector of the country.
Senator Go said that the dwellers in the major cities in the country shall be relocated to countrysides. In addition to that, he also said that the Balik Probinsya Program is a program that if complemented by other programs, can succeed well in the future.
The offshoot of this program is the development of the agricultural sector. If we can come up with other complementary programs promoting agriculture among those who are reintegrated in the provinces through the Balik Probinsya program, I believe this program will succeed.”
Top priority of the Philippine government
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, said that several Philippine government agencies started to hold meetings about it. In fact, it has been said that it’s going to be their top priority when things get brighter.
This is intended to be a long-term project but I can assure the public that all departments of government are meeting right now because naiintindihan namin na sa panahon ng napakahirap ng nasa Metro Manila at sa syudad ng Cebu at Davao, maraming nais na bumalik sa kanilang probinsya para doon na manirahan.”
In Translation: This is intended to be a long-term project but I can assure the public that all departments of the government are meeting right now because we understand the difficulty of living in Manila; as well as cities of Cebu and Davao. Maybe, people are looking to return to their provinces to relocate and live there.
Prefer working in the cities
The spark that made this dilemma is because of the fact that the children of these aging farmers preferred working in the cities. There is a clear decreasing number of farmers and fishermen in the country because:
- They are too old to work in fields and the waters
- They and their children are migrating to cities for urban living
This could benefit a lot in the agricultural industry in the form of income. Go said that the children of these farmers usually end up earning below the minimum wage in the city; most of them work as laborers, household or domestic help, sales ladies, factory workers, etc.
The senator iterated that they need to breed and attract newer generation farmers. They’re looking towards enticing them to revert to their agricultural roots.
We must entice a new generation of farmers to go back to our agricultural roots. We have to make agriculture and aquaculture more promising again to attract young farmers and fishers to these industries.”
After the pandemic
The Philippine government iterated that this will transpire after the pandemic. However, Roque said that if there are people who are looking to relocate now, they’ll try finding means to do so. Nevertheless, once it’s all ironed-out, he said that it’s going to happen; people should not worry about it.
Yung mga gustong bumalik na ngayon, we are finding ways and means subject to the quarantine requirements but the long-term program will be threshed out. That’s now become a top priority so huwag kayong mag-alala, it’s forthcoming.”
In Translation: To all people who wish to relocate now, we are finding ways and means that are subject to the quarantine requirements. But, the long-term program will be threshed out. That’s now become a top priority so don’t worry, it’s forthcoming.
Overcrowded Metro Manila
Based on the most recent census, there are about 12.8 million people living in Metro Manila. This made it more difficult for the Philippine government to contain the virus. The overcrowded Metro Manila has caused nothing but chaos, confusion, and a lot of risks that have been undermined by the Philippine government.
Nevertheless, the Balik Bayan Program is seen as a way to help people after the pandemic. With better agricultural life in rural areas, more and more people and even businessmen would want to invest.
People shouldn’t worry, as per Go because there’ll be livelihood assistance and incentives to be given to people who would return to their home provinces. This way, people would be more encouraged to stay in rural areas than to go out journeying in urban locations.
What do you think about the Balik Probinsya Program? Can this really give assistance to people after the pandemic? Would this be effective in terms of raising the agricultural bars that our country is currently in?