Duterte approves creation of task force on relocation of former rebels to idle gov’t lands

Published February 23, 2021, 11:56 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

A new inter-agency task force will be formed to oversee the relocation of former rebels to places with idle government lands, Malacañang announced Tuesday.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City on February 15, 2021.

Apart from the creation of the task force, President Duterte approved the proposed increased government security in critical public lands, as well as identification of idle government lots to be given away to rebel returnees.

These were among the four recommendations made by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to facilitate the swift land distribution to rebel returnees during the Cabinet meeting in Malacañang Monday. 

So far, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the government has distributed a total of 6,406.6 hectares of land located in Regions II (Cagayan Valley), V (Bicol Region), VIII (Eastern Visayas) and XI (Davao Region). Such distributed lands are now larger than the size of the city of Manila that covers 4,288 hectares, he noted.

“Gusto po natin mapabilis ang pag-distribute nito dahil alam po natin na napakalaki ng role nito para sa ating peace efforts (We want to hasten the distribution of the lands because we know this plays a huge role in our peace efforts,” Nograles said during a televised press briefing.

Nograles said the President has approved the following DAR recommendations:
– For the military and police to provide security measures in the government-owned land (GOL) areas which are found to be critical in nature;
– To create an inter-agency task force for the relocation of rebel returnees in other regions or province with available GOLs;
– For government agencies to identify idle GOLs that are ideal for distribution for rebel returnees;
– To implement the whole-of-nation approach for the enhancement of livelihood support projects to rebel returnees.

The President recently issued amnesty proclamations for former members of four rebel and communist groups in a bid to facilitate their return to the fold of the law. 

The amnesty covered Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) under Proclamation No. 1090; members of the Moro National Liberation Front under Proclamation No. 1091; members of the Rebolusyonaryong  Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilippinas/ Revolutinoary Proleterian Army/ Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP-RPA-ABB) under Proclamation No. 1092; and former rebels of the communist terrorist group under Proclamation No. 1093.

The four amnesty proclamations, signed by the President on Feb. 5, will take effect upon concurrence by a majority of all members of Congress.