President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to distribute more government-owned lands to the people through the expanded agrarian reform program.
Speaking before agrarian reform beneficiaries at the city gymnasium, the President said he has directed the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to survey all available public lands and “give them to the people.”
He said DAR, under Secretary John Castriciones, already processed and distributed about 700,000 hectares of lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms, benefitting more than 300,000 farmers.
“My order was for all government-owned lands to be given to you. As long as the land is government-owned, it shall be given away,” the President said.
“Everywhere all throughout the Philippines, we are giving away land titles to you,” he said.
Duterte was here to personally hand over land titles covering some 24,000 hectares of public lands in Region 12 (Soccsksargen), the biggest so far under the program, according to DAR officials.
A total of 12,548 certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs) were given out to 13,585 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARB) in the region.
These comprise 10,043 hectares in Sultan Kudarat province, 9,419 hectares in North Cotabato, 3,142 hectares in South Cotabato, and 1,393 hectares in Sarangani.
Moda Sagan, one of the farmer-beneficiaries from Barangay Colongulo in Surallah, South Cotabato, said the release of the land title realized a longtime dream for his family.
The 64-year-old Tboli farmer said the 2.8-hectare farm that is now titled under his name was passed on to him by his late father and they had faced uncertainty due to its status as a public land.
“Now, I have something to leave to my children and grandchildren,” he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in the vernacular.
Sabdula Andalawi, a beneficiary from Barangay Lun Padidu in Malapatan, Sarangani, thanked the President for “making sure that we finally own the lands that we till.”
“Finally, it’s here. Under this administration, our lands were titled under our names,” she said.
Duterte advised the farmer-beneficiaries to hold on to their lands and make them productive.
“Stick to the land and plant. That will be your livelihood and source of income even if it’s just small,” he said.
“Let’s just hope that the next government will find more government-owned lands and have it surveyed so that it can be given to the people,” the President added. (PNA)