'Balik Probinsya' gets boost with promise of incentives

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 24 2020 11:12 AM

'Balik Probinsya' gets boost with promise of incentives 1
Construction continues even at the inauguration of Robinsons Land Corp’s first township, Bridgetowne, on September 4, 2019. The township includes a bridge that connects Quezon City and Pasig that is seen to help ease traffic congestion. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Department of Trade and Industry said Friday it would provide incentives for businesses that will open in the provinces to support government's "Balik Probinsya" effort to ease congestion in Metro Manila.

More Filipinos in Metro Manila can be encouraged to come home to the provinces if there are job opportunities, said Trade Sec. Ramon Lopez.

Sen. Bong Go, President Rodrigo Duterte's former special assistant, is pushing for "Balik Probinsya" as overcrowded Metro Manila remains on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We will give more incentives papunta sa probinsya, kaysa sa maglo-locate sa Metro Manila. Ibig sbihin nun, attraction to looking outside," Lopez said.

(We will give more incentives to those going to to the provinces, than those in Metro Manila. It means we are making areas outside more attraction to looking outside.)

"'Pag nandoon na 'yung incentives, may trabaho na doon," he said.

(When the incentives are there, there will be jobs, too.)

The government will also provide financial assistance to those who seek to open micro, small or medium enterprises in the provinces, he said.

Duterte backed the "Balik-Probinsya" program, saying starting fresh in the provinces would give Filipinos "hope." Duterte was a longtime mayor of Davao City before he was elected president in 2016. Go was his special assistant at city hall and in Malacanang Palace.

"Some of them might really leave the Manila for good... what is really important is we give them hope," he said.

Go said: "Kung hahayaan lang natin na patuloy na magsikip ang mga tao sa Kamaynilaan, mas mataas ang tyansa na manumbalik na naman ang pagkalat ng virus,” he said.

(If we disregard Metro Manila's congestion, there is a higher chance that the virus will continue to spread.)

Under the proposed "Balik-Probinsya program, the government will provide free transportation for Metro Manila residents who seek to relocate to the provinces, provided they test negative for COVID-19.

The relocation program will begin after the national government lifts community quarantine policies in various areas.