AMID the travel restrictions and quarantine measures imposed on several parts of the country due to COVID-19, the government plans to implement the “Hatid Estudyante para Makabalik sa (Kanilang) Probinsya” initiative to assist stranded students in Metro Manila who want to go back to their provinces while waiting for the next school year to begin.
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said that he supports the initiative as he understands the challenges faced by students who are studying in Metro Manila away from their families in the provinces.
“Upon the initiation and inspiration of President Rodrigo Duterte, magpapatupad ang gobyerno ng Hatid Estudyante para Makabalik sa (Kanilang) Probinsya initiative upang matulungan ang mga stranded students dito sa Metro Manila na hindi nakauwi dahil sa travel restrictions at quarantine measures kontra COVID-19,” Go said.
“Suportado ko po ang inisyatibong ito. Wala naman pong pilitan ito. Sa mga gusto lang po na umuwi pansamantala na mga estudyante, dahil naiintindihan po ni Pangulong Duterte, naiintindihan po ng gobyerno na mahirap po mapalayo sa ating mga pamilya,” he further stressed.
Senator Go urged various agencies of the government to coordinate closely with each other to ensure the safety of students who would choose to voluntarily go home. The initiative will be led by the Department of Transportation, in close coordination with the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Education, and Commission on Higher Education.
“Nananawagan tayo sa DOTR na ihanda ang kailangang sasakyan ng mga estudyante — whether through air, sea or land. Sagutin dapat ng gobyerno ang transportation expenses. Alamin rin po dapat ng CHED at DepEd kung sinu-sino ang mga estudyante na interesado. Himayin dapat kung sino yung kailangan talagang umuwi at sino ang pwedeng maalagaan nalang dito sa Maynila,” Go urged.
“Nananawagan rin po ako sa DILG na tumulong sa coordination para makapaghanda ang mga LGUs concerned na tatanggap sa mga uuwing estudyante, ma-contact yung kanilang mga pamilya, at para maihatid diretso sa kanilang mga bahay o mai-turnover ng maayos sa kanilang mga pamilya,” he added.
As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go also emphasized the need that the initiative should be in strict compliance with protocols set by health authorities to avoid spreading the disease further.
“Pinapaalalahanan ko na dapat masigurong gagawin ng gobyerno ito sa paraang in compliance sa ating health protocols. Dapat makipag-coordinate sa DOH para sa paglatag ng quarantine measures, pag-conduct ng COVID-19 testing, at may certification dapat from health officials para masigurong hindi kakalat ang sakit pag-uwi nila,” Go said.
Go appealed to students and families for their understanding since protocols must be followed to ensure their safety and the safety of their communities. He also urged them to assess if it would be better for them to go home to their provinces or just stay in Metro Manila given that the next school year will start in a few months.
“Sa mga estudyante at kanilang mga pamilya, intindihin lang po natin na may proseso pong kailangan sundin kung nais nilang umuwi. Para naman po doon sa mahihirapan bumalik sa Maynila sa pagbubukas muli ng klase ngayong Agosto at para naman sa mga may kaya, baka makakabuting manatili na lang kayo dito sa Maynila,” he also appealed.
Mindful that there are students who may not opt to return to the provinces, Senator Go also appealed to various agencies of the government, LGUs and universities where these students are enrolled to ensure the welfare of students, particularly those staying in dormitories.
And, hoping that the country will soon overcome the COVID-19 crisis and given the inevitable “new normal”, Go urged concerned government agencies and schools to guide students in preparing for the next school year. He emphasized the need to still observe certain protocols, such as social distancing, depending on the health emergency status in areas where these schools are situated.
“Schools must prepare their facilities and lay down protocols in preparation for the possible scenarios that students, teachers and education personnel will face when classes resume,” he said.
“Hindi naman po pwedeng tumigil ang kanilang pag-aaral,” Go added.
The Senator also urged TESDA to coordinate its efforts and collaborate with various government agencies, such as the Department of Trade and Industry and the National Economic and Development Authority as well as the local government units, to match skills with the jobs that will be made available in the provinces. “This is to ensure that the technical and vocational education as well as the skills trainings offered in a particular province match with what is needed in that locality.”
“Naaayon rin ang klase ng kabuhayan sa katangian ng isang probinsya. Halimbawa, doon sa Mindanao, merong mga probinsya na malakas ang agri-industrial sector. Meron namang probinsya na mas akma sa kanila ang fisheries. Kaya mahalaga na ang binibigay na training ay tugma din sa kung ano ang negosyong maaaring lumago sa lugar na iyon,” Go said.
“Inaasahan din nating magkakaroon ng mga bagong special economic zones sa iba’t ibang parte ng bansa kung kaya’t dapat lang na ihanda na ang mga tao sa lugar na iyon para maging kwalipikado sila sa mga trabahong magiging available,” Go added.
As the country’s main agency tasked to manage and supervise the technical education and skills development of Filipinos, one of the mandates of TESDA is to integrate, coordinate and monitor skills development programs in different parts of the country.
In one of the meetings held for the Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program, TESDA Director General Isidro Lapeña shared that they are aligning their programs and enhancing courses in agriculture, health and construction. Many economists believe that these are the sectors that are expected to bounce back much faster than other industries right after overcoming the COVID-19 outbreak.
In another statement through a radio interview, TESDA-NCR regional director Florencio Sunico said that they will do a thorough profiling of workers and industries to help the government in properly assisting Filipinos going back to the provinces as the BP2 Program is set to be implemented.
As the proponent of this initiative, Go sees the BP2 Program as a way to decongest Manila, strengthen the capability of government to respond better to crises, and boost the economy of the provinces
The Senator urged the Executive branch, particularly concerned agencies and LGUs, to execute their plans immediately in support of the objectives of the program as more Filipinos have expressed willingness to go home to their provinces after what they experienced during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Hindi po ito sapilitan. Unahin dapat ang mga kababayan nating nais na bumalik sa kanilang mga probinsya at tulungan dapat sila ng gobyerno na makakuha ng trabaho o magkaroon ng mas maayos na kabuhayan,” Go said adding that the program aims to give Filipinos hope for a better future after the COVID-19 crisis.
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