By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte vowed to go after big and powerful landowners as he expressed dismay about their continued ownership of vast tracks of land despite the implementation of the government’s land reform program.
In a speech in Cagayan de Oro late Wednesday, the President named some powerful landed elites in the country who supposedly circumvent the law to continue taking hold of huge agricultural lands, depriving poor farmers of lands to till.
He vowed to aggressively carry out the land reform law and go after powerful landowners.
“Just like in Bacolod…tubo. In Central Luzon, si Cojuangco. Sila ‘yan (It’s them). Monteverde, Benedicto, the owners of the… But I think they moved to Manila. Pero originally, probinsyano rin sila (But they are also originally from the provinces,” he said in a speech during the mass oath-taking of newly elected officials in Cagayan de Oro City at the Xavier Sports and Country Club Convention Hall.
“I told them that if they are not going to do it, I will go there personally. There is nothing that we can do about it because that is the law,” he added.
According to Duterte, big landowners, despite having big parcels of land, cannot find satisfaction.
He also expressed that wealthy landowners continue to be billionaires even after the implementation of land reform program.
Meanwhile, Duterte criticized communist rebels anew for carrying out their own version of land reform.
The New People’s Army (NPA), he said, formed an association and forced people to join. The NPAs then chose the people who will possess the land and not the original tenants.
“That is why they were killing each other there. That was their drama. It was just for show. Those idiots. They can’t fool me. I’ve been in and out of the mountains for so long,” Duterte said.
President Duterte then instructed the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to place all the beneficiaries in their respective possessions.
He said that the government must seriously implement the land reform program to make the communist rebels irrelevant.
“I told the Cabinet, ‘You want to make the NPAs irrelevant? Give away all the lands. That was what the NPAs promised…land for the landless.’ They act as if they know better than you,” Duterte recalled.