THE first batch of returnees under the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2P) Program for Visayas-Cebu Province has arrived in Cebu.

Six families from Manila arrived at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport last Nov. 12, 2021 under the first tranche of the BP2P Program, the National Housing Authority Central Visayas (NHA 7) announced on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021.

The beneficiaries have now returned to their hometowns in Bantayan, Madridejos, Borbon, Liloan, Santa Fe and Bogo City in northern Cebu.

The BP2P program aims to depopulate Metro Manila’s congested urban areas by encouraging people, especially informal settlers, to return to their home provinces. Returnees would be supported in their transition with incentives on transportation, livelihood, housing, subsistence and education, among others.

The Cebu beneficiaries applied for the program online through although there is also an alternative to apply for the program at the nearest Balik Probinsya center in one’s barangay or the NHA Balik Probinsya, Bagong-Pag-asa Program Help Desk.

The NHA is the secretariat of the BP2P Council composed of the heads of 22 government agencies.

On their arrival, NHA 7 Manager Hermes Jude Juntilo assured the families that the various agencies of government, as well as their receiving local government units (LGUs), would assist them in their resettlement.

The NHA provided the beneficiaries with assistance in coordination with the LGUs where the beneficiaries are from.

The Department of Agriculture 7 provided them with equipment and materials so they could embark on farming as a livelihood, while the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7 gave food packs and covered their entire trip going back home, the NHA 7 said.

The pilot batch caters to beneficiaries coming from Luzon who wish to return to the Visayas and Mindanao. But soon, the program will also cater to those coming from the Visayas and Mindanao who wish to return to Luzon and other regions, the NHA 7 said.

President Rodrigo Duterte institutionalized the BP2P Program by issuing Executive Order 114

on May 6, 2020.

The BP2P program aims to reverse migration to Metro Manila and other congested metropolises to achieve a more balanced regional development and equitable distribution of wealth.

This will require the provision of sustainable employment opportunities in the countryside, which will be created through the four pillars of (a) empowerment of local industries; (b) food security and agricultural productivity; (c) social welfare, health and employment; and (d) infrastructure development.

The very first batch of BP2P Program beneficiaries consisted of 112 individuals sent off to their home province of Leyte on May 20, 2020 as the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic started gaining a foothold in the country.

The BP2P Program, which is free of charge, is targeted at low-income families who would receive from the DSWD transportation assistance, food allowance, basic household needs, and shelter assistance for six months or up to a year of rent subsidy.

Prior to the beneficiaries’ departure for their home provinces, the Department of Labor and Employment should already profile the enrollees for assistance, with the Department of Trade and Industry, Technical Skills and Development Authority, DA and the Department of Agrarian Reform distributing the assistance packages. (CTL)