Richard Gomez airs frustration over lack of coordination on 'Balik Probinsya' program


Posted at May 25 2020 06:46 PM

MANILA - Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez on Monday expressed frustration over the lack of coordination by the national government for the "Balik Probinsya" program after his COVID-19-free city was "surprised" with an influx of arrivals.

Gomez said the local government unit was not informed of the arrivals under the program last week. On Monday, he said he was only informed of the arrival of overseas Filipino workers in the city via text message.

"This Balik Probinsya program that started last week, we were not informed of the people arriving. We were just surprised there was a bus already," he told ANC.

"The IATF (inter-agency task force) Balik Probinsya program should understand (that) the LGU can only take in so much OFWs. They can't take in hundreds, thousands," Gomez added.

The Balik Probinsya program is a pet project of Sen. Bong Go that was adopted by President Rodrigo Duterte as a national program. It aims to promote robust development in the countryside and to decongest Metro Manila.

The actor-turned-mayor called for "strict coordination" from the national government, and adherence to "strict protocols" when it comes to domestic travel in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We want full cooperation from these agencies. We can't accept people without documents. We've prepared so hard to keep our city COVID-free and then here comes the repatriates coming home. We don't know whether they're infected or not," Gomez said.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on Monday said all OFWs that were sent home to their respective provinces were tested for COVID-19.

"Lahat po ng pinauwi na OFWs have health certificates since they have been subjected to PCR tests," Roque said.

(All of the OFWs sent home have health certificates since they have been subjected to PCR tests.)