By Armando Fenequito Jr.

DAVAO CITY – The municipal government of Kalawit, Zamboanga del Norte is now awaiting the arrival of the first 200 families who will resettle in the town for the “Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program,” (BPBPP).

This was bared by Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol in a statement on Friday.

Piñol said Kalawit Mayor Salvador Antojado Jr. was ready to accept the arriving families while waiting for the response of other local government units (LGUs) on the BPBPP.

“While other LGUs have reservations on allowing returning urban dwellers to resettle in their area, Mayor Antojado says the arrival of the ‘Balik Probinsya’ participants could result in the development of his town,” he said.

Piñol said that Kalawit, the newest town of Zamboanga del Norte is a fourth class municipality with a population of 23,000 in a land area of 22,000 hectares.

He also said that the mayor expects new roads to be constructed, additional school buildings, communications facilities, health centers and other vital government support services.

“Antojado is a former Marines officer who saw action in many conflicts in Mindanao. And he said his town still has vast areas which could be developed. Right after his assumption to office as Mayor, the battle-hardened former Marines officer cleared the town of Communist insurgents thus opening vast agricultural areas,” he said.

Piñol said that alongside the development of his town’s agricultural potentials, he also sees the transformation of the sleepy town into a farm tourism destination because of its natural beauty.

He said the BPBPP, which was pushed by Senator Christopher Lawrence Go and supported by President Rodrigo Duterte, aims to decongest the urban centers by convincing informal city dwellers to go home to their provinces.

The official said under the BPBPP program, 22 departments and agencies of government will contribute to ensure its sustainability by providing support services and livelihood opportunities.