Countryside Development – DA Secretary William Dar (top left) convenes the CAR BP2 committee virtually with NEDA-CAR OIC Regional Director Stephanie Christiansen (lower left) along with DA-CAR OIC RD Cameron Odsey (top center), DTI-CAR OIC-ARD Juliet Lucas (top right), Atty. Ross Vincent Sy of PEZA (middle left), PIA-CAR RD Helen Tibaldo (middle right) and NHA Regional Manager for Region 1 & CAR Engr. Maria Belinda V. Sevalla (bottom right middle) to discuss the regional implementation of the BP2 program.

On April 28, Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William D. Dar presided over the virtual meeting of the CAR BP2 Committee joined by NEDA-CAR and regional line agencies to discuss the regional implementation of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-Asa Program (BP2). The BP2 program, institutionalized through Executive Order 114 series of 2020, aims to provide a better future to Filipinos through the equitable distribution of wealth and resources throughout the country by boosting countryside development and addressing the problem of urban area congestion.

National Housing Authority (NHA) Regional Manager for Region 1 & CAR Engr. Maria Belinda V. Sevalla cited that as of April 26,2021, there were 541 total applicants for the program in the Cordillera region with Benguet having the highest number of applicants. Secretary Dar requested the NHA and DSWD to fast-track the validation and assessment of BP2 applicants for CAR to guide the implementation of the regional action plan prepared by the committee.

NEDA-CAR OIC-Regional Director Stephanie Christiansen presented the highlights of the proposed CAR BP2 Regional Action Plan (RAP) for the committee to review. Secretary Dar on the other hand, expounded on the development principle of environmental sensitivity to enhance sustainability. In addition, he stated that on the localized strategies on agriculture and broadening the perspective of food production through value-chain systems approach to include market development, linking producer or cooperatives to markets through infrastructure (food center/market) and logistics will further strengthen the Regional Action Plan.

Highlighting key localized provisions, Mr. Jose H. Dado of NEDA-CAR presented the regional implementation guidelines to facilitate the relocation of program beneficiaries and rural development. The CAR BP2 Committee strengthened the structure to include other agencies and state universities and colleges in CAR. The committee also added a criteria on the suitability of sites in the provision of housing. As part of the action plan, the DILG regional office provided an assessment of the absorptive capacity and needs of the receiving LGUs prior to the relocation of beneficiaries.

Secretary Dar recommended an enhancement of online presence in advocating government initiatives by the CAR BP2 Communication Group headed by PIA-CAR Regional Director Helen Tibaldo. Seeing that social media is a cost-effective platform in keeping the public informed of government’s efforts in uplifting the lives of the Filipinos, he suggested using the tag-line “Angat na Cordillera” for the BP2 campaign in the region.

In line with the BP2 program and over-all Cordillera economic development, the committee sees Ecozone Development as on one of the strategies for regional development in providing more opportunities in the countryside. Secretary Dar emphasized the importance of ecozone development in achieving CAR’s development goals. The secretary enjoined NEDA-CAR, PEZA and DA-CAR to develop a CAR Ecozone Development Strategy considering the hubs and spokes strategy, the need to study potential markets and to consider the “Look East” Strategy or looking into East Asia as a potential market, and to also study the forward and backward linkages of CAR’s ecozone development to other region’s economic zones such as Clark Argi-Industrial Zone.

With the inputs solicited from the group that will be consolidated in the final draft, the CAR BP2 Regional Action Plan, Localized Implementation Guidelines, and the Communication Plan will be endorsed by the CAR BP2 Committee to the Regional Development Council for adoption.