President Rodrigo R. Duterte called out the state-owned Land Bank for having turned into a “commercial bank” when it should be prioritizing the financing of agriculture enterprises.
In his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA), Duterte urged Land Bank to help the farmers.
“That’s why itong (this) Land Bank na ito, ‘pag hindi ito na… You know, you are called Land Bank but you are now the number one commercial bank in the Philippines,” Duterte said.
“What the heck is happening to you? You are supposed to finance agricultural enterprises and endeavors. Bakit wala (Why aren’t you doing it)? Bakit — why can’t you just buy a few wagons or whatever? Go to the countryside and ask the people if there are cooperatives, tulungan ninyo (help them) to form one,” he added.
Duterte said Land Bank should “go back to land.”
“Why are you mired in so many commercial transactions? Bumalik (Return) kayo where you were created for and that is to help the farmers,” Duterte said.
He stressed that he will give Land Bank only until the end of July to present him a plan on how to help farmers.
“You better decide on that, I will give you until the end of July to give me a plan or else I will ask Congress to reconfigure you what-not,” Duterte said.
He said if there is no viable plan for the farmers, then Congress might as well “abolish” it and the money intended for it might go to the congressmen for their development funds.
In a press conference after his SONA, Duterte further clarified why he wanted to reconfigure Land Bank.
“It’s called Land Bank. Primarily, it was a bank intended to serve people who are connected with lands, whether owners or tenants,” Duterte said.
“So ‘yang land reform na ‘yan, nandiyan na — (So that land reform, that’s there) most of it. I’m going to complete the land reform whether the land owners like it or not because there are still tenants who are not in possession but the owners are still — the owners of the land control the — they produce and everything,” he added.
Duterte said Land Bank was really crafted “to serve enterprises or whatever there is banking needs of the people who cannot — who can barely negotiate with a bank.”
Meanwhile, Duterte also asked Congress to pass “a more responsive version” of the bill establishing the Coconut Farmers’ Trust Fund to ensure utilization of coco levy funds for the well-being and empowerment of the coconut farmers.