MANILA -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday vowed to distribute government-owned lands to the people for the remainder of his term.
"For my remaining three years, I will give away all government-owned lands to the people. They are of no use to the government anyway. The mountains are very vast. Except for the military reservation. Their area is very large. But there's nothing like that in the mountains. So I instructed (Agrarian Reform Secretary John) Castriciones to give the lands away to the people because that is one of our most pressing problems," Duterte said in the vernacular during his speech at the distribution of Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) in Sagay, Negros Occidental.
The President recognized the need for a land-reform program to attain peace and order.
"This war will never end if we don't give them land. These people dream of a better life for their children, better than their life and the life of their forefathers," he said.
Duterte said land reform has started since the administration of former president Corazon Aquino but problems occurred in its implementation.
"This program isn't mine, so I'm not going to claim it as my own. This is Cory's. The land reform has already been done but the problem is the distribution. It wasn't being fast-tracked because you know that there are people who refuse to let go of the lands. Sometimes you see soldiers and policemen, but that's because there are reports of chaos happening there," he said.
Duterte said communist rebels should recognize the growing population in dealing with the issue of land reform and land ownership of the rich in the past.
"You communists should understand this. The world was very big. It's not the government's fault that it had this kind of policy. They didn't change it until the population grew and grew. People squatted on lands and they had their own families. Their children followed suit and squatted on vacant lands too," he said.
"Now you want lands, so let's divide it among you. That is the reason why I got the big land owners. 'Let's give it away,' I told them. 'Pare, don't be angry. I don't want to do this, but I have to do my job'," he added.
The Department of Agrarian Reform earlier said it has set an all-time high record of 60,000 hectares of land distributed with Certificate of Land Ownership Award in 2018, exceeding their projected target by 20,000 hectares.
Duterte earlier said communist ideology is not needed to implement genuine land reform program in the country.
Source: Philippines News Agency