By Ali G. Macabalang
The government’s Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program (BPBPP) has not covered any person afflicted with coronavirus (COVID-19) disease yet, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) averred today.
“The fact is not a single family has yet moved out of Metro Manila and returned to their provinces under the ‘Balik Probinsya Program’ in Mindanao,” MinDA Chairman Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol pointed out in his online post this morning.
MinDA, is a member-agency of the BPBPP, “wishes to clarify that the Maguindanao students who recently returned home and who tested positive for COVID 19 were not part of the ‘Balik Probinsya’ Program, said Sec. Piñol, who is the program chief implementer in Mindanao.
“As of today, we are still on the ground preparation for the implementation of the program in Mindanao and we are closely coordinating with the Local Government Units to address their concerns,” he said.
Piñol issued the clarification while he and his staff were in Kalawit, Zamboanga del Norte holding consultations with the local officials because the municipality is one of the three towns selected as pilot resettlement areas in Mindanao.
“Among the very important issues raised (and agreed with) the LGU (officials) which we very well understand is the conduct of stringent medical testing and social preparation protocols before the families could return home,” he said.
Piñol’s online message was coupled with a photo showing him brainstorming with his staff in Kawit town Wednesday evening.
“As head of the Balik Probinsya implementing agency in Mindanao, I wish to assure our local leaders and our people that while we wish to immediately undertake the program, we will not compromise the health and welfare of the local people,” the MinDA chief said.
In his message, Sec. Piñol did not elaborate about the report on returning Maguindanao students being afflicted with COVID-19 symptoms, but assured that “we will exhaust consultative processes and go through stringent and rigorous social preparations and health protocols before implementing the program.” (AGM/RSP)