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Duterte senses corruption in delays in land conversion; warns DAR officials


By Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte has threatened to fire and prosecute agrarian reform officials who delay the processing of land conversion applications due to corruption.

President Rodrigo Duterte (PCOO)

President Rodrigo Duterte (PCOO)

The President warned that if the Department of Agrarian reform (DAR) officials sitting on land use conversion were unperturbed by cases in court, he would resort to ending their lives instead.

Duterte issued the stern warning after expressing dismay with the DAR’s slow conversion of farm lands to other non-agricultural purposes.

“Kung nakikinig sila ngayon sa conversion office ng DAR, better prepare because you’re fired,” he said during his visit to Lucena City, Quezon Tuesday.

“Kung hindi kayo mag-ano, kasuhan ko kayo.’Pag hindi pa kayo natakot sa kaso, patayin ko na lang kayo [If you don’t shape up, I will file cases against you. If you’re not afraid of cases, I will just kill you],” he said.

The President found unacceptable that it took DAR two years to process the conversion of an agricultural land to commercial use, saying there was probably corruption involved.

He insisted that land use conversion should be completed in a month’s time.

“If it’s take you two years to process a paper, a conversion there, you are up to corruption. I told them one month. Ano ba naman… Bakit mo patulugin ang papel? Kung ‘di pabalik-balikin mo ‘yung tao,” he said.

He said those behind the slow land use conversion was only causing “disorder” in the country.

“Ganun ang nangyari. May umabot, dalawa. Sabi ko, alisin mo. ‘Pag hindi ka mag-alis, gusto mo patayin kita. Mamili ka. You are causing disorder. Kaya nga law and order eh [That’s what happened. It took two years. I said ‘Remove them.’ If you don’t leave, I will kill you. You choose. You are causing disorder. That’s why there’s law and order],” he added.

Duterte, who has zero tolerance towards corrupt and incompetent public servants, hit back at erring government officials for taking him for a fool.

“Parang mo akong ginagago kasi. You take me as a stupid idiot. Warning ako nang warning ako ng ganun tapos you do it again and again,” he said.

In his speech, the President renewed his promise to pursue the agrarian reform program in the country. He said he intends to distribute government lands to rightful beneficiaries in the remainder of his term.

“If there’s still government lands, pag-aralan na lang ninyo ‘yung mga agricultural on the — itong uphill. I will — within the three years of my remaining ibibigay ko sa inyo lahat ‘yang lupa ng gobyerno dito,” he said.

Duterte said he could not understand why the state would want to hold on to public lands. He said these lands could be given to farmers so they can have a chance to improve their lives.

“Why are we hanging to lose vacant lands when we can use them to satisfy the fundamental desire of every Filipino, not only agricultural workers but all to own a land,” he said.

Duterte said he wanted to know from Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones the number available lands that could still be distributed to farmers and farm workers. Castriciones however was not present in the Lucena event attended by the President.

“I hope he would be around next time — na gusto ko siyang tanungin if there’s still available lands, government lands ang uunahin ko dito banda sa inyo,” he said.

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