By Genalyn Kabiling
Communist rebels who will surrender to the government will be given a chance to own a piece of land under a new directive of President Duterte.
“The President directed the inclusion of New People’s Army surrenderees in the next round of land distribution,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said on Thursday.
The President issued the directive about the government’s land distribution program benefitting rebel returnees during a Cabinet meeting held in Malacañang on Wednesday.
Last December, the President ordered the creation of a national task force to end the local communist armed conflict in the country. The task force, chaired by the President, is mandated to craft and implement a “National Peace Framework” that will include development and peace-building initiatives in conflict-affected places.
Duterte previously expressed hope the five-decade communist insurgency would be over by the second quarter of 2019, citing the fall of many rebel fronts in the provinces. He also repeatedly appealed to communist rebels to lay down their arms and surrender to authorities, promising to provide them with housing and livelihood assistance.
In the same Cabinet meeting, Panelo said they tackled government programs aimed at accelerating government assistance to farmers and fishermen to boost their productivity and income.
According to Panelo, they discussed the Land Bank’s Accessible and Sustainable Lending Program for Small Farmers that provides “greater access to loan facilities.”
“Landbank also made mention that 361,000 farmers with existing individual Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) will be qualified for a bank loan,” he said.
To improve the lives of farmers and fishermen, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol also reported the “bucket list” for implementation.
“These are farm-to-market roads, irrigation, which includes solar powered irrigation system to be financed by an Israeli company, storage facilities, activation of regional food terminals and strengthening of the ro-ro programs, easy access credit for farmers, institutionalization of a farmer/fisherfolk credit union, and the creation of a cabinet cluster headed by the President,” he added.