Duterte vows to declare whole Mindanao land reform area
BULUAN, Maguindanao – President Duterte on Wednesday said he will declare the whole of Mindanao a land reform area and distribute government lands, including military camps to the people, once peace is achieved.
“I’ll give it all to you. You find a public land, including those where military camps are situated, that’s yours,” he said in Filipino during a speech at the turnover of some 900 surrendered firearms from various Maguindanao towns.
Duterte said government lands, which can be productive, remained idle and have not contributed to the economy.
“Nothing will happen to it,” he said.
“I will give it all, you plant rubber, you plant palm oil,” Duterte added.
He said to achieve peace, the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) had to be speeded up.
“So let us fast track the (passage of the) BBL. The BBL does not mean all of Mindanao will be for the Moro. (BBL) would be like the Liberal or (Nacionalista) party. It will amplify the voice of the Moro for the national government to listen to,” he said.
Duterte said he was trying his best to have the BBL passed.
“I am promising you it will pass before May. If not, I will resign from the Presidency. It’s all yours,” he said.
Congress is currently on a break and was not expected to resume sessions until May.
Duterte said he would be a useless president anyway if his administration could not solve the country’s problems such as the Moro problem.
“I want you to be established. I will talk to Nur (Misuari) what the arrangement would be,” he said.
“But you will have a definite Moro territory. All the government land, that’s yours,” he added.
Duterte also asked the Moro people to just talk for peace.
“Let’s continue to talk because if you shoot a policeman or a soldier, they would take up revenge. It will never end and nobody will win. Believe me,” he said.
He said trouble would only drag the country further down.
“We will end up a poor country, forever fighting each other,” Duterte added.
He said firearms would also not do the Moro people any good.
“What can it provide your family? Can you educate your family with it? Can you plant your livelihood with it?” he asked.
Duterte said the Moro people should believe him because he was one of them.
He also asked them to seize the moment of his presidency “because no one like me would probably come again.”
Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said the surrender of the firearms – by civilians and local officials – was a manifestation of the people’s support for the Duterte administration’s campaign against loose firearms.
Mangudadatu also said the President was correct in saying that guns would not bring any good to Moro families.
“It will only cause trouble and we have seen that for many years now,” he said.
Mangudadatu said the provincial government would continue to convince people to yield their guns, in exchange for livelihood and the education of their children.
“We have started sponsoring students from families who did not have guns under the Maguindanao scholarship program,” he added.
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