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Garin files ‘Balik Probinsya’ bill

A MEASURE that will promote regional economic development to decongest highly urbanized areas has been filed in the House of Representatives. AAMBIS-OWA Rep. Sharon S. Garin, under House Bill No. 7111, seeks to institutionalize the “Balik Probinsya” program, which among others facilitates the reintegration of individuals to their area of origin. “The goal of the bill is to reduce this vulnerability by attaining equitable voluntary spatial distribution of the population and strengthen the resiliency of families and communities,” Ms. Garin, who chairs the economic affairs committee, said in a statement. President Rodrigo R. Duterte issued an executive order on May 6, 2020 establishing the Balik Probinsya program. “We need to encourage the urban population to return and be reintegrated in their areas of origin within the context of informed choice and voluntarism,” Ms. Garin said. The measure will also incentivize businesses and participating private companies that will relocate investments in the countryside and suburban areas through tax rationalization and financial subsidies, among other administrative support. A medium-term action plan will also be created to integrate national and regional plan. It will be managed by the provincial and city governments with the support of local population offices. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

BuCor says COVID-19 cases in national penitentiary ‘manageable’


THE BUREAU of Corrections (BuCor) on Thursday said the coronavirus situation at the New Bilibid Prison, the country’s national penitentiary, remains “manageable.”  BuCor Spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag, in a briefing, said 350 have been confirmed positive for the coronavirus disease, of whom 260 are inmates and the rest are BuCor personnel. Of the total, 315 have recovered while 21 died. All the deaths involve prisoners, including nine high-profile inmates, which has prompted questions and conspiracy theories. Mr. Chaglag said all the deaths are “properly documented” and that they are following protocols on reporting to both the city health office of Muntinlupa, where the penitentiary is located, and to the Department of Health. The national penitentiary houses about 29,000 inmates. — Gillian M. Cortez





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