By Ali G. Macabalang
KIDAPAWAN CITY – The national government’s Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa Program (BPBPP) has continued to gain ground in the southern, focusing on a former lair of bandits and rebels in Kalawit, Zamboanga del Norte as a second model village in Mindanao.
National officials led by Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, BPBPP principal initiator, and National Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager Marcelino Escalada are expected to visit Kalawit soon to launch formally the second BPBP village in the town, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chairman Manny Piñol announced Wednesday.
Secretary Piñol visited early this week the prospective second village model site, where initial construction works began “less than a year” after Kalawit, one of the newest towns of Zamboanga del Norte, was chosen as host area by Governor Alberto Uy and Mayor Salvador Antojado.
Mayor Antojado had helped clear his town of rebel and bandit elements before retiring from the Philippine Marines corps and joining politics, Piñol said.
National officials led by Senator Go initiated the BPBPP in early 2020 as one of the principal measures aimed at inspiring migrants in urbanized areas to return to their points of origin and spur human decongestion in metropolitan cities.
In 2020, collaborating officials launched works in barangay Tacub, Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte after it was chosen as the first BPBPP model village in Mindanao.
Ongoing construction works for 200 housing units are expected for completion before the end of this year, during which BPBPP beneficiaries would occupy the edifices in formal ceremony, MinDA Media Relations and Public Affairs Chief Dr. Adrian Tamayo said.
Officials of Lanao del Sur and Kauswagan chose barangay Tacub as the first BPBPP site in Mindanao because of its significance to local unification and reconciliation efforts.
Barangay Tacub had grabbed media limelight on October 24, 1971 when 40 to 60 Moro villagers were massacred by Visayan settlers allegedly backed by soldiers, according to Wikipedia.
The second BPBPP model village in Kalawit covers a former Pagkain ng Bayan production area that was abandoned years ago because of the presence of armed bandits, according to MinDA.
The Kalawit model village sits on a 200-hectare area that can accommodate 200 families and enable them to engage in farming and entrepreneurial activities upon return from Metro Manila, Sec. Piñol said.
In the Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte BPBP village, returning residents will be involved in poultry raising and vegetable production because of the smaller area of six hectares, he said.
Among the products identified for adoption by returning families is the planting of high value coconuts, especially the Sweet and Aromatic variety, for the high-end market and for export, the MinDA chief said. (AGM)