As the government prepares to send the second batch of Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program beneficiaries to their respective provinces, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Monday reminded the BP2 Council to ensure that stringent health protocols are strictly followed to prevent the possible spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Go, chair of the Senate committee on health said the BP2 Council should also exercise proper coordination with receiving local government units (LGUs).
“This plan will only be successful if we always follow health protocols to ensure the people’s safe travel and protection from the virus,” he said in a statement.
The BP2 proponent said proper coordination with receiving LGUs is equally important to prepare them for the possible eventuality that a beneficiary may later test positive of the disease after a few days in the province.
“Because of the peculiarities of the novel coronavirus, we cannot ascertain the enemy. Even those who tested negative can test positive after a few days. This is why it is also important that LGUs, as well as health facilities nationwide, are able to enhance their capabilities to test, trace, and treat patients with Covid-19,” Go said.
Go issued the reminder even as BP2 Council leaders assured that implementing agencies are going to great lengths to ensure that all protocols are being strictly followed for the second batch of beneficiaries that will depart for the provinces starting June 11.
The validated and assessed beneficiaries from Metro Manila are set to return to various provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao in the coming weeks, namely Leyte, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Camarines Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, and Lanao del Norte.
BP2 Council Executive Director and National Housing Authority General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. said that aside from the standard medical clearance by the local health officer and certificate of quarantine issued to the beneficiaries, “another health protocol of Antibody Rapid Test and allocation for test kits has been made” for the succeeding batches.
He likewise assured that there is ongoing coordination between the council and concerned LGUs to ensure the safe transfer of people as well as to ensure the readiness of the local governments, particularly in their testing capacity.
Also, Executive Secretary and BP2 Council chair Salvador Medialdea has assured that “the Council has been careful in ensuring that returnees under the Balik Probinsya program undergo the protocols from departure to the arrival phase, whether through the member-agencies or in coordination with the LGUs.”
The BP2 program, which was institutionalized by President Rodrigo Duterte through Executive Order 114, aims to decongest Metro Manila by relocating residents, particularly informal settler families, to the provinces where they can be provided better assistance and livelihood opportunities amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
As of June 2020, the program has received over 80,000 applications, comprised of individuals traveling alone and families.
The BP2 program was launched in Quezon City May 20 with the send-off of 112 beneficiaries returning to the province of Leyte. (PNA).