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Palace calls ex-DAR chief’s remark vs agrarian reform ‘false, plain, simple’

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By Prince Golez

Malacañang on Monday expressed disappointment over the statement of former Secretary Rafael Mariano of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) that President Rodrigo Duterte has no real interest in land reform.

“We find disappointing the recent statement of former Secretary of Agrarian Reform Rafael “Ka Paeng” that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is not interested in real land reform,” said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a statement.

Panelo added that the allegation of Mariano, a 180-degree turn from his previous position, was “false, plain and simple.”

“The Palace notes that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program was enacted more than 30 years ago but it is only during the Duterte Administration where Filipinos have witnessed a political will from the government to fully implement it. Mr. Mariano is fully aware of this,” Duterte’s chief legal counsel said.

According to him, 120,889 hectares of land were distributed to 77,275 agrarian reform beneficiaries from July 2016 to June 2019.

Panelo said Duterte also issued Executive Order 75 that mandates all government agencies to identify government-owned lands suitable for agriculture for distribution.

The issuance covered unused government-owned lands, this making available at least 300,000 hectares more for the agrarian reform program, he also said.

“There may have been several hectares of land distributed in past administrations, but this is not the totality of agrarian reform since support services for the recipients had been wanting, thereby leading them to sell the lands they have been awarded with.

“As a result, the government’s intended program for the landless had been defeated. The President saw this problem addressed the issue and optimized the utilization of agrarian lands by providing 494 agrarian reform beneficiary organizations with machinery, equipment, seeds, seedlings and farm animals,” the spokesman said.

Panelo noted that the DAR has also been tasked to ensure that distributed lands are maintained for tilling through the rendition of support services.

“This is real agrarian reform,” he concluded.

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