Mayor Richard Gomez frustrated at Balik Probinsya program’s lack of coordination

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Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez on Monday expressed his frustration over the lack of coordination and proper implementation by the national government for the “Balik Probinsya” program after his COVID-19-free city was “surprised” with an influx of arrivals.

Gomez said their local government unit was not informed of these arrivals under the program last week. On Monday, he said he was only informed of the arrival of overseas Filipino workers in the city via text message.

“This Balik Probinsya program that started last week, we were not informed of the people arriving. We were just surprised there was a bus already,” he told ANC.

“The IATF (inter-agency task force) Balik Probinsya program should understand (that) the LGU can only take in so much OFWs. They can’t take in hundreds, thousands,” Gomez added.

The Balik Probinsya program is principally led by Sen. Bong Go that was then adopted by President Rodrigo Duterte as a national program. It aims to promote development in the countryside and decongest the metro.

Gomez called for “strict coordination” from the national government, and observation of local government’s “strict protocols” when it comes to domestic travel taking note of the severity of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We want full cooperation from these agencies. We can’t accept people without documents. We’ve prepared so hard to keep our city COVID-free and then here comes the repatriates coming home. We don’t know whether they’re infected or not,” Gomez said.

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