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PCCI backs Duterte Balik Probinsya program

THE country’s largest business organization with a membership of 35,000 small, medium and large enterprises nationwide has given its full backing to President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-Asa initiative, as it endorsed new legislation on township revitalization meant to finally decongest Metro Manila and create more jobs in rural communities amid the seemingly drawn-out coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter sent recently to President Duterte, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) pointed out that “with high population density becoming a major cause of the spread of the contagious coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19), we all the more must intensify the Balik Probinsya effort.”

Hence, “we cite the timeliness and are fully supportive of a bill filed in Congress by Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte [of Camarines Sur], which will provide the basis for ensuring the sustainability of this program,” said PCCI president Ambassador Benedicto Yujuico and former GMA-7 president-CEO Menardo Jimenez, who chairs PCCI’s Balik Probinsya program, in their letter to President Duterte.

PCCI’s letter of support for both the Palace program and the legislative initiative of Villafuerte was sent to Mr. Duterte through Sen. Christopher Lawrence Go, and a copy was furnished the deputy
speaker for finance.

Villafuerte filed House Bill (HB) No. 6970 during the first regular session of the 18th Congress in a bid, he said, “to fast-track the implementation of President Duterte’s initiative to stop unbridled urban migration and create a lot of jobs plus livelihood and self-employment in the countryside in order to encourage people to stay put and work in their home provinces.”

Senator Go has filed Senate Resolution (SR) 380 on the Balik Probinsya program, which the President endorsed in one of his televised public addresses last May.

President Duterte subsequently issued Executive Order (EO) 114, mandating a multi-sectoral comprehensive program to decongest Metro Manila and encourage Filipino workers here and abroad to go back to their home regions and live—and work—there for good.

Villafuerte said “the full support of PCCI, which is the biggest umbrella group of businesses in the country, should serve a a strong impetus for both chambers of the Congress to put the proposed
legislation fast-tracking Balik Probinsya among their top concerns this second legislative session.”

The former Camarines Sur governor said HB 6970 seeks to “harness public investments and incentives as the linchpin of a two-pronged approach to encourage people who have migrated to the heavily congested Metro Manila to return to their home provinces and for those who have opted to stay put in their cities or municipalities to remain there instead of relocating to Metro Manila and other urban centers in search of jobs or better livelihood opportunities.”

The PCCI told President Duterte in the letter that the decongestion of urban centers, notably Metro Manila, “has been planned and in fact, has been the ambition of previous administrations, their efforts inevitably have fallen short of expectations and come to naught. No administration has yet been able to successfully reverse rural migration to Metro Manila and other urban centers!”

In support of the President’s program and the legislative proposal, Yujuico and Jimenez said the PCCI “will engage the business community to do its share by marshalling their resources in support for providing decent livelihood opportunities to returning migrants. This is the kind of Public Private Partnership (PPP) which will help boost the economy and improve lives of the returnees while decongesting Metro Manila.”