Duterte warns farmers against using land benefits for illegal drugs

By Genalyn Kabiling 

President Duterte has warned farmers against mortgaging their lands just to buy and get hooked on illegal drugs.

RB30 President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the 28th Bureau of Fire Protection Founding Anniversary and 118 Years of Fire Service at the Philippine International Convention Center on August 1, 2019. REY BANIQUET/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (REY BANIQUET / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

At a recent agrarian reform event in Davao City, the President told farmers to be "careful" about using the loan money to buy shabu and cocaine, hinting that they might end up dead.

Duterte made the appeal amid the government's plans to introduce a measure allowing agrarian reform beneficiaries to use land as collateral in getting loans from banks and other financial institutions.

"For the many of you who are really not so keen about farming but want the easy life, you go to the bank, mortgages it and if you have about 50,000, you go and buy shabu. And then shabu would give --- would make you a millionaire in three months’ time," Duterte said during the Mindanao-wide turnover of land certificates to agrarian reform beneficiaries.

"But do not forget to buy a pre-need and make your reservations in the funeral parlors. You will go there, I can assure you," he said.

To help boost farmers' production and income, Duterte has pushed for a new measure that will ease restrictions on the agrarian reform lands given to beneficiaries. He said the government would craft a law that will let agrarian reform beneficiaries "mortgage your title, your land, to borrow money to improve the land."

Under the present law, agrarian reform beneficiaries cannot sell, transfer or lease his land during the 10 years from the award of the property.

"But for those of you who are intending the money for other purposes like shabu and cocaine, be careful. Be careful, because I have told you. I have warned many," Duterte said.

The President earlier vowed to sustain the implementation of the agrarian reform program, particularly distributing government-owned lands to qualified benefices. He said the government plans to complete the acquisition and distribution of almost 550,000 hectares of agricultural lands nationwide during his term.

"The time has come for us to fully acknowledge the invaluable contribution of farmers in nation-building and in promoting food security despite the many difficulties and challenges that we face," Duterte said.

Of the 613,327 hectares remaining for distribution in 2016, the government has so far given 120,889 hectares to 77,275 agrarian reform beneficiaries.