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By Prince Golez

President Rodrigo Duterte issued an executive order (EO) institutionalizing the “Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa” (BP²) Program to stimulate inclusive growth in the countryside.

“To reverse migration to the National Capital Region and other congested metropolises, as well as to attain rural prosperity through equitable distribution of wealth, resources and opportunities, a balanced regional development program to foster socially cohesive, resilient and sustainable rural communities needs to be institutionalized,” said Duterte in signing EO 114 on May 6, 2020.

His latest directive mandates the creation of BP² Council to ensure whole-of-government action on the implementation of the new program.

The Council shall be headed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea with acting National Economic Development Authority chair Karl Kendrick ChuaKarl Kendrick Chua as Vice-Chairperson.

Its members include the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Health, Department of Information and Communications Technology Department of Finance, Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Transportation, Department of Tourism, Commission on Higher Education, Department of Education, Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, Department of Education, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; Director-General of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority; and Chairperson of the Mindanao Development Authority and Cooperative Development Authority.

Under the EO, the Council shall have the following powers and functions:

-Formulate within 30 days the guidelines necessary to implement this Order, including the BP² Program Framework

-Provide overall direction in the implementation of the BP² Program, including guidance and technical assistance to government agencies and local government units (LGUs) in its implementation

-Approve or modify key areas and components of the BP² Program, as well as ensure the compliance of government agencies involved in its implementation

-In coordination with the Presidential Communications Operations Office, develop a strategic communications plan to educate the people and advocate for supportive policies at the local level

-Identify legislative, regulatory, and policy changes to promote balanced regional development and recommend to Congress the enactment of such reforms into law

-Engage, consult and coordinate with LGUs in the formulation of policies and implementation of the components of the BP² Program that will allow for resource-sharing arrangements through, among others, co-financing mechanisms with development partners

-Enlist the support and assistance of other government agencies, instrumentalities, government-owned or -controlled corporations and state universities and colleges, as well as consult and provide avenues for the private sector, relevant stakeholders, advocacy groups and non-government organizations to participate in the attainment of the objectives of this Order

-Create sub-groups, technical working groups or committees as may be deemed necessary to implement the objectives of this Order

-Adopt mechanisms, such as but not limited to an online platform, and establishment of the BP² desks in all offices of member agencies, to facilitate accessibility to the public, enhance monitoring of implementation, and ascertain the compliance of beneficiaries; and

-Perform other tasks as the President may direct.

Section 6 of the Order provides that, the amount necessary for the implementation of the Program will be charged against existing appropriations of the member agencies of the Council, and from sources to be identified by the DBM subject to existing budgeting, accounting, and auditing laws, rules and regulations.

A bi-annual report must also be submitted to the President on the implementation of the Order, including its accomplishment in terms of short-, medium-, and long-term goals and budget utilization.

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