More rural jobs would decongest Manila — bishop

More rural jobs would decongest Manila — bishop

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the apostolic administrator of the Manila archdiocese. PHOTO FROM THE DIOCESE OF CUBAO

By CBCP News

May 14, 2020

Manila, Philippines

Unless rural realities are taken into account, a Catholic bishop said that the revived “balik probinsya” (back to the province) program will not work any better.

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the administrator of the Manila archdiocese, said that lessons from the past should be taken more seriously.

“In a word, the development plan – and the budget – should all be aligned to give importance to the rural areas in order to develop the agricultural and fishery sectors of our society,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte on May 6 institutionalized the “Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program,” which seeks to decongest Metro Manila and boost countryside development.

The struggle to contain the spread of coronavirus has spurred the authorities to address the massive numbers and densities of Metro Manila’s informal settlements.

The back to the province program is not new. The prelate said there have been many such programs in the past and “they have all failed”.

He said that people who were sent to the provinces came back to cities after some time because of the need for jobs.

“Now they promise to give skills training to the people and give them a bit of a capital for them to stay there. This is already a positive realization,” Pabillo said.

But this is not enough, according to him.

The government and businesses, he stressed, “should pour massive investment” in rural areas so that they get adequate human services and jobs in the provinces.

The bishop also said that the pandemic should serve as a “wake up call” for the government to pay attention to the “neglected” sector of agriculture.

The quarantine period, he said, has once more brought to the fore the essential services that the farmers and fisher folk render to the public.

“They are essential to our economy and to our survival,” he said.