OPENING REMARKS OF DEPUTY SPEAKER LOREN LEGARDA Tuesday, November 18, 2020 / 1st Hearing on Balik Probinsya Bills

November 17, 2020

Good morning to my fellow Members, and to the guests and resource persons representing the different government agencies today. 

As Chairperson of this Sub-Committee on New Normal, I would like to thank you all for joining this first hearing that we are conducting on the various bills pertaining to the Balik Probinsiya, Bagong Pag-asa Program of the national government.

Since early this year, we have been beset by uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  We all have had to deal with vast changes in our daily lives for the most part of this year:  at home, at work, how we conduct our businesses, how we source our food, and even how we earn a living.  Businesses were affected, jobs were lost and many families living in highly urbanized cities, especially in the National Capital Region, were uprooted as they had to make the difficult decision to go home to their respective provinces.

In May this year, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order no. 114 which institutionalizes the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program to pave the way for a balanced regional development, which has long been the thrust of the government as espoused in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 and in our long-term development plan under AmBisyon Natin 2040. 

As the different regional branches of the national agencies and local governments dealt with the influx of locally stranded individuals under the purview of Executive Order 114, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos were able to successfully go home to the provinces in the past months.  This, however, presented accompanying challenges which is primarily the lack of employment and livelihood opportunities in the countryside.

Therefore, the five (5) bills authored by our colleagues in this House, all seek to further enhance the implementation of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program by:  1) determining and expanding the appropriate services and assistance extended to locally stranded individuals; and, providing fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to businesses which will establish, relocate, and expand operations under the Balik Probinsya Program. 

May I now call on the Authors of the bills who are present to make their short manifestation.  

The agencies have been given copies of the bills and have been requested to submit their position papers, for the consideration of this Sub-Committee.  We will now call on the agencies to present their respective position or comments on the bills pending before us today.  We will request the agencies to give just the highlights of your position paper or comments within 5 minutes.

As we have a long list of invited agencies, I would like to ask for the indulgence of my colleagues to allow all the agencies to finish their presentations first before we propound our questions.  You will also be given 5 minutes to ask your questions to allow everyone to take their turn during the first round.  Should there be additional questions, we will try our best to accommodate a second round of questions.

 At this juncture, the Chairperson now call on the representative of NEDA, being the Vice Chair of the Balik Probinsya Council,  to proceed with the first presentation.

 Thank you.