Local government units (LGUs) should start preparing for a peaceful environment for businesses under a post-lockdown scenario to ensure the success of the proposed “Balik-Probinsiya” program of the government, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said on Wednesday.
“If we want the proposed Balik-Probinsiya program to succeed, then we must ensure peace and order in all provinces and that means ending the CPP-NPA in all places where they operate. That’s why we welcome the President’s pronouncement of an end to all peace talks with the Reds who has revealed their true colors to the people,” he said.
The DILG Chief said that under a post-lockdown scenario, LGUs outside Metro Manila must seriously address their peace and order problems to restart the flow of money into their localities and attract Metro Manila residents to return to their hometowns.
“Of course, no businessman in his right mind would want to invest money in areas where he cannot have peace of mind, you know to hold business peacefully and productively. We must create the conditions for a vibrant economy,” he stressed.
Año cited the experience of some investors in communities with extremists and communist terrorists who attacked telecommunication and transportation facilities. In other communities, extremist groups kidnapped people for ransom and harmed employees while prolonged labor disputes by leftist organizations paralyzed business operations.
Sen. Bong Go earlier raised the possibility of the “Balik Probinsiya” program to decongest Metro Manila, the epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic in the country. The DILG said it supported this proposal as long as peace and order improved, and necessary infrastructures for businesses are in place to prevent people from returning to Metro Manila.
For his part, DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said a peaceful environment would make it easier for the government to put up the infrastructures needed for business and create mini-economic zones.
Malaya said local chief executives should increase the visibility of Barangay Tanods and strengthen coordination with law enforcement agencies, including the military, and peace and order councils. He said that LGUs should also improve their reporting of cases and feedback monitoring to assess if their efforts are practical and useful.
“Once you have a peaceful environment for business, everything should fall into place. You cannot just ask people to return to their provinces if there are no employment or business opportunities in their hometowns. Thus, we must create the environment conducive for employment for the Balik-Probinsiya program to succeed,” he added.