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MAASIN CITY, May 11 (PIA) -- The Balik Probinsya, a program that was seen as a strategy to fight COVID-19 by decongesting crowded urban areas especially Metro Manila, is part of federalism, a system of government that decentralizes governance from the center of power.

“Balik Probinsya is part of federalism, actually, because you can only return to the province if your province is prepared to do business, prepared to welcome visitors,” Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado said in a press conference with local media in his new district office at the old DPWH building , Thursday.

Advocated strongly by Sen. Bong Go, Balik Probinsiya was institutionalized by the issuance of Executive Order 114 as announced by Sec. Harry Roque, presidential spokesperson, also on Thursday.

During the presscon, Cong. Mercado mentioned the Balik Probinsya, in the course of his passionate call for the Senate to vote as one with the House for a constituent assembly, or a constitutional convention, in order to effect changes in the Constitution and thus go federal.

“Resolutions were already in the hands of the Senate, resolutions which were already approved by the House,” Mercado emphasized, suggesting that the ball is now at the Senate’s court for it to act.

The province’s lone representative viewed the coronavirus pandemic as a wake-up call to revisit efforts at changing the basic law of the land, in whatever model, as soon as possible, stressing that under a federal set-up COVID-19 could be properly managed.

He cited some places that remained COVID-free yet are still subject to quarantine procedures as mandated by the central powers. In a federal setting business shall be unhampered in uninfected areas.

And in a business-as-usual mode under a federal state and a none COVID environment set-up, Balik Probinsya is the way to go.

“I’m talking about infrastructures, where we can have our own airline, our own vessel, our own airport, we manage our own, where we can implement programs on tourism, environment protection, and agriculture effectively,” Cong. Mercado pointed out.

Asked if he will run as senator, when his federal dream comes into fruition, the lawmaker let out a hearty laugh.

“I have no plans to run for the Senate in a federal set-up,” he pointedly declared, adding that he only wants to see an empowered, more financially capable province, where programs for the benefit and welfare of the people are fully implemented. (mmp/PIA8-Southern Leyte)