‘Balik Probinsiya’ suspended; gov’t to prioritize stranded passengers

Image from NHA Facebook page
  • ‘Balik Probinsiya’ program has been temporarily suspended
  • This is to give way to stranded OFWs, students and construction workers
  • It will resume once the demand for provincial trips subsides

MANILA, Philippines – Only a month into its implementation,  the ‘Balik Probinsiya, Bagong Pag-asa’ program has been suspended for the government to concentrate on its efforts on providing transportation to stranded Filipinos, mostly those in Metro Manila.

National Housing Authority (NHA) general manager and ‘Balik Probinsiya’ executive director Marcelino Escalada Jr. announced on Thursday it was a directive from President Rodrigo Duterte himself to suspend the program, a pet project of Senator Bong Go.

NHA GM Marcelino Escalada Jr.| Iamge from Gapnod Facebook post

Escalada said they will instead prioritize trips for OFWs, students, construction worker and tourists stranded in Metro Manila following the implementation of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) three months ago.

“I decided as a matter of strategy na isuspend muna ang ating (to suspend first the) rollouts for the Balik Probinsya,” said Escalada. “We want to make sure that on one hand, the LGUs are ready to receive their own constituents by then.”

‘Balik Probinsiya, Bagong Pag-asa’ or BP2 is a brainchild of Sen. Go. The program “is geared towards addressing Metro Manila’s congested urban areas by encouraging people, especially informal settlers to return to their home provinces” where they will be assisted by the government in the transition “with support and incentives on transportation, family, livelihood, housing, subsistence and education.”

Image from Sen. Bong Go’s Facebook page

The temporary suspension may last for a month, according to the NHA official, and will resume once the demand for trips of stranded passengers subsides.

So far, the program has helped in the return of more than 100 individuals in Leyte and thousands of applicants more are hoping to avail of the free transportation to their home provinces.