By Genalyn Kabiling
The lease contracts on government lands by rich private entities are considered “cancelled” since these properties are now under agrarian reform program, President Duterte announced on Saturday.
The President also prohibited any more lease and acquisition of government lands by the private sector, saying he intends to give away these lands to agrarian reform beneficiaries for the remainder of his term.
“My order to the DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform), since I still have three years remaining, is to give away all the lands to the people. That is what I intend to do,” Duterte said during the PDP-Laban campaign rally in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon last Saturday.
“The rich multinationals who acquired leases on many lands, those leases have expired. If they haven’t yet, consider it cancelled because your lands are now under land reform,” he said in taking back the government lands.
With the implementation of the land reform, Duterte also said government lands would no longer be leased or purchased by private entities.
“There will be no acquisition. You can no longer purchase land from the government and leases have expired because land reform is being implemented,” he said.
“The people will receive lands from the government. It will really be implemented whether you agree with it or not,” he added.
Exempted from the distribution of public lands would be military camps and other properties “we need,” according to the President.
“Most of the lands are intended for military camps, so those will not be given away. We won’t give away the lands that we need,” he said.
Duterte made clear that he was “not angry” with the rich but was merely looking after the welfare of the people. So far, he said his administration has placed 60,000 hectares of land under land reform.
“I’m not angry at the rich but I’ve already told you that I am for the people,” he said.
Citing an example, Duterte said the government has given away lands in Boracay and other areas in Aklan to agrarian reform beneficiaries. He said the natives now own the land so they can cultivate the land and reap the benefits.
Duterte also noted that the country’s farmers deserve to own the land they have tilled on for many years.
“Those tenants whose families have worked hard for several generations, beginning from his grandfather who first tilled the land for his landlord, the land should be given to them. Fair is fair,” he said.
He said the law on agrarian reform must be followed even though concerned parties might lose money over their investments.
“So what if they say that they lost a huge investment? I don’t care. We have to follow the law. If they say, ‘We have invested 100 million,’ I’m sorry. I’m sad that you lose money,” he said.
“But there is a law which says that a land reform shall benefit the agricultural tenant and that it has to be given to them,” he added.