GENERAL SANTOS CITY— President Rodrigo Duterte renewed his offer Thursday to the members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who want to return to the fold of the law saying his government is ready to provide them with shelter, job and livelihood if they lay down their weapons.
Speaking before the recipients of certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs) in Soccsksargen (Region XII), the President said his dialogue with the communist insurgents is about to end whether they agree with the government or not.
The communists’ fighting capability has diminished and they no longer have guns and ammunition as well as food to defeat the government.
“To the communists, come down here. I’ll give you a small condo. The same condo that I allot for the military and police,” he told the members of the NPA in his renewed offer. “But it’s a house that you can live in. It’s habitable so to speak.”
It won’t be easy for the communists to surrender but the President said he believes they will slowly come down from the mountains.
Once they lay down their weapons, the President said he is willing to provide them with houses, job and skills training from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
President Duterte also expressed the seriousness of his administration to give land to the landless, noting he has instructed government agencies to distribute all surveyed state lands to the people.
During Thursday’s event, the President led the distribution of 12,548 CLOAs in Soccsksargen, which is expected to benefit 13,585 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs).
Soccsksargen is composed of four provinces and one city: South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City.
The CLOAs distributed by the President in the event held at the Lagao Gymnasium here, covered a total aggregate of 24,000 hectares of lands all over Soccsksargen.
The region-wide CLOA distribution is in line with President Duterte’s directive to fast track the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms or CARPER.
The CLOAs distributed Thursday covered lands located in four provinces of Soccsksargen that include those in North Cotabato with 9,419.7459 hectares; Sarangani, 1,393.0000 hectares; South Cotabato, 3,142.9546 hectares; and Sultan Kudarat, 3,364.2370 hectares.
Around 2,000 ARBs attended Thursday’s event along with 500 other attendees from local government units, DAR and other government agencies.
The CLOA distribution was significant because it supports the President’s 10-point socio-economic agenda and at the same time provide a sense of security to the Soccsksargen ARBs.
With more lands being handed over to ARBs in the region, the government expects an increase in agricultural productivity and investments that in turn improve the overall economic status of the region.
After the issuance of CLOAs, the DAR, in partnership with other government agencies will continue assisting farmers in Soccsksargen to uplift their lives through the provision of livelihood programs, scholarships, crop insurance and credit assistance. PND