CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Wednesday expressed dismay over the continuous ownership of vast tracks of land by wealthy landowners despite the implementation of the government’s land reform program.
The President named some powerful landed elites in the country who circumvent the law to continue taking hold of huge agricultural lands, depriving poor farmers of lands to till.
He vowed to aggressively carryout the land reform law and go after powerful landowners.
“Just like in Bacolod…tubo. In Central Luzon, si Cojuangco. Sila ‘yan. Monteverde, Benedicto, the owners of the… But I think they moved to Manila. Pero originally, probinsyano rin sila,” President Duterte 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.”
Big landowners, despite having big parcels of land, cannot find satisfaction, he said, noting that even after the implementation of land reform program, they remain billionaires.
The President also criticized communist rebels who carry 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,” the President said.
President Duterte instructed the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to place all the beneficiaries in their respective possessions.
He believes that, to make the communist rebels irrelevant, the government must seriously implement the land reform program.
“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,” he said.
The President also took a swipe at the party-list system in the country, which, he said, is being abused by wealthy and influential people.
“The rich people fund the party list. They are named after laborers but their nominees are the millionaires,” the President said, adding many of these party-list members are involved in corruption.
Also present Wednesday were Senator-elect Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rolando Adlao Uy, Mayor Oscar Seriña Moreno, Vice Mayor Raineir Joaquin Velez Uy, and 2nd District Councilor Joyleen Mercedes Labis Balaba. PND