Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go reminded concerned government agencies to assist stranded workers in Metro Manila so they could return to their home provinces safely once travel restrictions are lifted and proper protocols are in place to avoid further spread of the COVID-19 disease.
“As we prepare for the implementation of the Back Provincial Program, let us prioritize stranded provinces here in Manila who are separated from their families due to the quarantine and travel restrictions that are being implemented,” Go said.
The Senator said that various forms of assistance, such as food and transportation, should be provided, especially for those who are stranded in Metro Manila due to the travel restrictions.
“We will help them get home, we will provide them with transportation, food and livelihood assistance, and we will make sure that their return home will not cause further illness,” he said.
Go has coordinated with the Department of Social Welfare and Development for the provision of transportation assistance and transitory packages for stranded workers. The Department of Transportation has also committed to ensure their safe travel back to their home provinces.
“It is important to provide them with food, transportation and livelihood assistance,” he said.
For those who have lost their jobs, Go urged the Department of Labor and Employment and LGUs to assist affected workers by providing cash for work programs and other livelihood assistance necessary once they return home.
Go also said that proper health protocols should be in place so that people who will return to their provinces will be ensured that they will not bring the virus to their hometowns.
“Follow the quarantine measures, have COVID-19 testing, and require certification from health officials before traveling to make sure their illness does not spread,” he said.
Meanwhile, the inter-agency council tasked to implement the “Back Province, New Hope Program” based on Executive Order No. 114 is also aligning efforts of various national agencies and local government units in preparation for the expected movement of Filipino families who have expressed willingness to relocate to their home provinces after the COVID-19 crisis.
Go said that, as the proponent of the Balik Province province program, he will continue to help national agencies in implementing the program immediately to benefit all affected Filipinos who wish to relocate to their home provinces.
“As a proponent of this program, I will continue to work with the Executive branch. They will have the mandate to execute and implement it,” Go said, stressing further that the Executive branch must implement necessary measures that will support the objectives of giving Filipinos a better future after the COVID-19 crisis.
“This program aims to give Filipinos hope for a better future and the government will help them if they decide to return to their provinces,” he said.
Go also emphasized that the BPP is an initiative for those who have voluntarily committed to return to their provinces and start life anew.
“Many want to go home. But this is not forced. We will prioritize returning provinces as we prepare other programs to entice other Manila and entrepreneurs to relocate as well. in different parts of the country, “he explained.
Senator Go emphasized that the whole government should learn from the experiences encountered during the COVID-19 crisis, particularly the difficulties in controlling the spread of a disease and the challenges of delivering government services in overpopulated urban centers.
“In the Visayas, we are ‘overwhelmed’ by the over-centralization of our population and resources in urban centers. Let this be a learning experience for us all,” Go said, emphasizing the need to provide long-term solutions to better address various social, economic, and health issues in the future.
As a legislator, Go said he would help formulate long-term plans and push for key legislative measures necessary to encourage more Filipinos to go home to the provinces to have a fresh start. He mentioned earlier that he will support proposed measures that will encourage investors and businesses to expand their operations in the provinces and grant them incentives to boost development and availability of economic opportunities in the countryside.
“As a legislator and as a province also, I want to make sure that our fellow Filipinos have a good future when they return to their provinces. This is in line with President Duterte’s vision that our countrymen have better opportunities everywhere they are in the country, “Go said.
“As President Duterte said, starting fresh in the provinces will give Filipinos HOPE for a better future after this COVID-19 crisis,” he added./Stacy Ang