DAVAO CITY—Recognizing the important role of Filipino farmers in nation building, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Friday led the first-ever ceremonial Mindanao-wide turnover of Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) in the region.
During his speech at the Davao City Recreation Center, the President said the land titles handed over Friday represent not just ownership of lands by the farmers but also the administration’s commitment to implement genuine agrarian reform anchored on social justice, peace, equity, and productivity.
“With today’s distribution of titles, we look positively into the future as government endeavors to complete the acquisition and distribution of almost 550,000 hectares of agricultural lands nationwide, 81,000 hectares of which are here in Mindanao,” President Duterte said.
By giving the Filipino farmers actual possession of land titles, the government can empower them and, at the same time, improve their capability for self-reliance and greater productivity, he said.
A total of 58,387 CLOAs were turned over by the Land Bank of the Philippines to the Department of Agrarian Reform, which is mandated to release the land titles to 60,233 ARBs from five regions of Mindanao involving a total of 102,727 hectares.
In addition, a total of 1,361 CLOAs were distributed to 1,709 ARBs in Davao region, involving a total of 1,452 hectares of lands.
These CLOAs cover some 182 hectares of private agricultural lands acquired in 2018 and early 2019, and 1,179 hectares of partitioned CLOAs, which were the resultant titles of collective CLOAs issued to agrarian reform cooperatives.
As of June this year, the President reported that almost five million hectares of land have been distributed to almost three million ARBs nationwide. Almost two million hectares of these lands are located in Regions 9 to 13, benefiting more than 960,000 farmers.
To make it easier for farmers to develop their lands, President Duterte said his administration is working with legislators to craft a law that will provide farmers easy access to financing.
“Ngayon ito, we are crafting a law that would allow you to use…to mortgage your title of your land to borrow money to improve the land,” he said.
“You know, agriculture is the weakest link sa atin. So, we have to do more. That’s why I said, nandiyan man si Mrs. Borromeo. Land Bank, as the word says, it’s a land bank. It is a bank that would cater to the needs of the land owners or farmers.”
The President also sees the aggressive land reform program by the government as an effective way to defeat communist insurgency in the countryside.
“You only have to make them irrelevant. What? The greatest promise that the communist can give is land reform. I have been at it since I became president three years ago,” the President said.
Also present during the event were Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones, Agriculture Undersecretary Waldo Carpio, Land Bank of the Philippines President Cecilia Borromeo, Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, and other members of the Cabinet. PND