BACK HOME. Beneficiaries of the “Balik Probinsya, Balik Pag-asa” (BP2) program arrive in Palo, Leyte from Metro Manila in this May 21, 2020 photo. At least 42 beneficiaries of BP2 have signified their interest to avail of the scholarship programs of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. (Photo courtesy of the Department of Agriculture 8)

TACLOBAN CITY – At least 42 beneficiaries of the “Balik Probinsya Balik Pag-asa” (BP2) program have signified their interest to avail of the scholarship programs of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

The move is part of the national government’s commitment to helping returning residents find new opportunities in the province after movement restrictions due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis displaced them in Metro Manila.

Alexandra Valeriano, information officer of TESDA’s provincial office, said on Friday they were getting the updated contact numbers of the first batch of 112 BP2 beneficiaries who arrived in Leyte on May 21 to enlist more scholars.

“They are our priority for the scholarship program to provide them employment and livelihood opportunities in the province amid the health crisis,” Valeriano said in a phone interview.

 The 42 returning residents have expressed their interest to learn more about cookery, dressmaking, animal production, auto repair, electronics, and air conditioning, among others.

 Their names have been forwarded to the technical-vocational institutions (TVIs) in Leyte for registration.

“We are still waiting for the final approval of our central office. Our target is for them to start the training before the end of July or early August this year,” Valeriano told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Government-accredited TVIs and training centers have been preparing electronic learning materials, as they adapt to the “new normal” environment.

TESDA will provide the trainees with starter tool kits, personal protective equipment, Internet connectivity allowance, and a daily allowance of PHP160 during the training period.

On May 21, about 112 persons returned to the towns of Kanangga, Matag-ob, Alangalang, Tanauan, Hilongos, Bato, Burauen, Dagami, Julita, Tabobtabon, Palo, Tolosa, Isabel, Palompon, Tabango, Villaba, Abuyog, Javier, MacArthur, Calubia, San Isidro, Albuera, Merida, Tunga, Dulag, Mayorga, Carigara, Jaro, Babatngon, Barugo, Capoocan, and Matalom, and Baybay City.

They composed the first batch of beneficiaries of the BP2 that implements Executive Order (EO) 114, which aims to ensure balanced regional development and equitable distribution of wealth, resources, and opportunities through policies and programs that would boost countryside development and inclusive growth.

The EO also targets to provide adequate social services, promote full employment, industrialization, and improved quality of life in rural areas through different interventions from the national government.

Of the 112 returning residents, only three of them turned positive for Covid-19 and all of them have recovered and reintegrated back to communities.

TESDA also invites locally stranded individuals to avail of free skills training. (PNA)