By Prince Golez
To sniff out rebel influence, President Rodrigo Duterte asked the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to speed up land distribution in areas that remain hotbeds for communist insurgency.
During the joint National Task Force-Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict Region 10 meeting in Cagayan de Oro Friday, Duterte cited the report of Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones that 450,000 hectares of land are up for distribution.
“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 Chief Executive said.
It has been the administration’s policy to distribute idle public lands to agrarian reform beneficiaries.
Apart from land, Duterte said farmer beneficiaries should also receive fertilizer and seedlings from the government.
“I will spend all of the government’s money even if I have to steal it for as long as we can provide you all these,” he added.
The President also renewed his offer for a local peace dialogue with the rebels.
“This is my request from you: to go down here so we can talk. Do you want us to talk in the mountains? I will be the one to go up there,” said Duterte.
“I’m used to having dialogues with you, right? I’m used to that. If you want me to go there alone, then we can talk there. But you should swear on your honor that I go up there alive and come back down alive. Let’s talk,” he added.