President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Friday, March 8, mandated the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to distribute government-owned lands, including the ones in the mountain areas to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs). He made such an announcement during the ceremonial distribution of 3, 423 Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) to representatives of 2, 495 beneficiaries in Barangay Kauswagan in Sagay City.
In his remarks, the Chief Executive stressed that he would hasten the allocation of lands in the remaining three years of his term. However, he would prioritize first the distribution of properties owned by the state.
“I still have three more years. I will give everything to the people, especially lands owned by the government which are not being utilized. I already ordered [DAR Secretary John] Castriciones to give the land to the people,” the President said using a mix of Bisaya, Tagalog, and English languages.
President Duterte said that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) has been implemented since the administration of former President Corazon Aquino and he is simply enforcing the law. However, he acknowledged the challenges in distributing estates because some occupants do not want to let go of their lands and some espouse the communist rebels’ movement.
He once again told the public not to engage with the members of the New People’s Army because the government is striving to provide their needs. As for the NPAs, he renewed his call for them to return to the fold of the law.
“I don’t want to kill the NPAs. I don’t even want to kill anybody, especially the Filipinos. Why can’t we have discussions instead?” the President added.
“I told Agriculture Secretary [Manny Piñol] ‘Go to the mountains and [find out] what the people need the most.’ Most said, ‘Mayor, fertilizers.’ Others said, ‘Mayor, seedlings.’ Therefore, those are the needs that I will be pouring funds for,” he added.
The President reiterated his firm commitment to alleviate the lives of the poor. “I want them to prosper, at least during my term,” he said.
“I don’t tell promises that I cannot keep. Once I said it to the public, I will honor my words till I die. I will do it,” he added.
President Duterte promised the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries who received their CLOAs during the ceremonial distribution that they would also receive fertilizers and support services.
He also vowed to give each of them cellular phones so they could report their complaints if these promises are not fulfilled.
According to DAR, 485 of the beneficiaries who received their land titles have already been provided with essential support services from their department, including credit facilitation and availment, capacity-development, trainings, provision of common service facilities, livelihood support, agri-extension services, PBD lawyering and market linkages, among others.
The CLOAs that were distributed covered a total of 1, 609 hectares acquired land situated in eight cities and 11 municipalities here in Negros Occidental, one of the provinces in the Philippines covered with vast private agricultural lands. (PND)