Some one million residents of Metro Manila are expected to move to other regions in the next six months under the Philippine government’s Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa programme that aims to decongest the National Capital Region.
National Housing Authority general manager Marcelino Escalada made the projection as he noted a high interest in the newly launched programme, which got 5,000 online enrolees in just four days.
The online application was only launched on Friday, noted Escalada, who heads the secretariat of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Council.
“If this will be the figure, there will be exponential enrolees every now and then. Perhaps we can hit a figure in the next six months of one million residents of Metro Manila who would like to enrol,” he told a televised Laging Handa PH briefing.
Laging Handa PH is the Philippine government’s crisis communications centre.
Escalada said the programme is voluntary, and those joining it must be willing and informed.
Under the programme, the government provides assistance, such as transportation and allowances, to those who would like to relocate to urban or rural areas in the region.
Interested parties may go to the nearest Balik Probinsya centre or go to the website, where they would fill out an assessment form.
The programme was launched amid the new coronavirus outbreak, which hit Metro Manila the hardest.
Escalada said the assistance from the government would help beneficiaries of the programme transition to their new life away from Metro Manila.
He added that the national government would coordinate with the receiving local government units (LGUs) to help ensure their readiness for the possible influx of new residents.
The LGUs would be provided with institutional benefits and incentives as well, he said.
Leyte, Camarines Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Pangasinan, Quirino and Marinduque have signified interest in joining the pilot programme, he added.
He said the government would decentralise economic opportunities and government operations to bring more people to the provinces.
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK