53,000 Pinoys apply for ‘Balik-Probinsya’
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - May 26, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — More city dwellers are opting to return to the provinces due to the economic uncertainties posed by the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19.

More than 53,000 applications have been received for the government’s “Balik-Probinsya” program since the online application was opened on May 8, accor-ding to National Housing Authority (NHA) general manager Marcelino Escalada Jr.

“Right now, we have 53,218 (applicants) over the last 10 days,” Escalada, who serves as executive director of the program, said yesterday.

Of the figure, 29,104 are single applicants and 24,207 are families.

Aside from the online application, more than 10,000 application forms were distributed to interested residents of Metro Manila.

Earlier, Escalada said the government expects around one million residents of Metro Manila to avail themselves of the program.

Last week, the first batch of “Balik-Probinsya” beneficiaries composed of 112 individuals returned to Leyte in a shuttle bus provided by the government.

Leyte is among the provinces participating in the program’s pilot run. The others are Bohol, Camarines Sur, Lanao del Norte, Marinduque, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Pangasinan, Quirino province, Samar, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur.

Qualified beneficiaries will receive financial assistance, which includes P35,000 in transportation allowance; P60,000 in transitional allowance, including food and non-food items, and P15,000 in livelihood allowance.

The financial assistance would be released gradually through vouchers after the beneficiaries arrived in the provinces, Escalada said.

He assured the beneficiaries that they would be provided with jobs based on the qualifications that they stated in their application forms.

The “Balik Probinsya” program is ready to provide jobs to about 1.5 million people , Escalada said.

Beneficiaries who have no houses will be offered housing loans by the government’s shelter agencies such as Pag-IBIG, National Home Mortgage Finance Corp. and  NHA.

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