DAR ordered to hasten land distribution to end insurgency
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte wants the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to hasten land distribution in areas that remain hotbeds for communist insurgency to eliminate the influence of rebels.
In his address on Friday in Cagayan de Oro City during his conference with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, its regional counterpart, and local officials, Mr. Duterte said 450,000 hectares of land are up for distribution in the country, based on the report of Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones.
“I hope that you will be able to distribute it before my term ends. Something to do, leave behind. Thank you. I will give away all 400,000 [hectares],” the President said.
Farmer beneficiaries should also receive fertilizer and seedlings from the government, the President added, expressing his willingness to spend money for the program.
The Palace said the government had distributed more than 2,100 hectares in Northern Mindanao alone. It added that the President’s policy has been to give away all government-owned lands that have been idle for decades.
The President also reiterated his offer to rebels who wanted to return to the fold of the law that the government was ready to provide them with shelter and livelihood. The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority will conduct skills training for rebel returnees and their spouses so that they can get well-paying jobs.
Martin Andanar, chief of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, the designated Cabinet officer for regional development and security for Northern Mindanao, pointed out that the delivery of government programs in the region has improved.
In a statement, Andanar said there were “marked improvements” in the region’s communities and barangays in terms of improving access to basic services, provision of infrastructure, and livelihood opportunities through the various convergence projects and interventions prioritized in conflict-affected, poverty-stricken, and geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas and sectors all over the region.
He noted that these converging efforts of government agencies resulted in the substantial reduction in the region’s poverty rate, from 32.3 percent in 2015 to 17.3 percent in 2018.