The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is backing the “Balik Probinsiya, Bagong Pag-asa” (BP2) Program, saying it is expected to propel regional growth and decongest Metro Manila.

“The DILG welcomes the institutionalization of the BP2 Program since this has always been our battle cry in our campaign for Constitutional Reform (CORE) which is equal opportunities for growth and progress for all,” said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.

He said it was “timely and necessary” for development programs to reach the regions.

Executive Order 114 institutionalizes the BP2 Program by making it the “backbone” of the government’s recovery plans. It seeks to encourage Metro Manila residents to return to their hometowns once the coronavirus quarantines have been lifted.

It aims for the “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.”

Año said one key learning from the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) health crisis was that densely populated cities might lead to higher cases of infection.

Zamboanga del Norte, North Cotabato, Bukidnon and Lanao del Norte have volunteered as pilot rural resettlement communities under the BP2 Program.

Priority areas include infrastructure, local industries, social welfare, health and agriculture. (Jojo Mangahis)