By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has proposed a second phase of the comprehensive agrarian reform program in the country and urged Congress to pass a law to implement such an initiative.
The President stressed that it was better to give away idle lands, including government lots, to farmers to boost their income as well as promote agricultural growth.
“Ngayon itong mga titled land na medyo hindi productive or ‘yung sa gobyerno [These titled lands or government lands that are not productive], I do not see any reason why we should hang on to it,” the President said during a land reform event in Quezon province last Wednesday.
“Why do we not embark on another phase of land reform? But I would need the cooperation of Congress. ‘Pag wala ang Congress, mahirapan talaga tayo [If Congress is not on board, we will have a difficult time],” he added.
Duterte said farmers could till the mountains and plant coconut and rubber trees, instead of just letting these lands become unused and unproductive. He cited the need to enhance agricultural productivity since the sector was the “weakest link” in the domestic economy.
“Ibigay na natin lahat ngayon [Let’s distribute them all] I’ll have to resume land reform because it is really needed,” he said.
“Tutal as we go on, kumikita naman tayo. If we just save money, walang corruption. At ‘yung pera talaga nagastos mo, ito gastusin mo, aabot talaga doon sa intended beneficiary [As we go on, we will earn. If we just save money, there’s no corruption, and the money spent, it will reach to the intended beneficiary],” he added.
Duterte was in Quezon province for the ceremonial distribution of certificates of land ownership awards (CLOA) to 386 land reform beneficiaries. He was joined by Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriones, former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez.
Duterte earlier disclosed plans to declare Mindanao as a land reform area amid efforts to bring peace and development in the south. He said he would distribute lands, including idle public lands and military camps, to farmers to boost agricultural development.
The comprehensive agrarian reform law was signed by then President Corazon Aquino in 1988. The law aims to grant landless farmers and farm workers ownership of around 7.8 million hectares of agricultural lands.
The Department of Agrarian Reform is the lead agency tasked to implement the CARP law’s major components such as land tenure improvement, program beneficiaries development and agrarian justice delivery.