By Teng Lauban Datu
Cotabato City Bureau Chief .
GENERAL SANTOS City — The government under the Duterte administration will continue its land reform program throughout the country as it will not only help the farmers and land beneficiaries in terms of socio-economic aspect but will also address one of the underlying causes of the armed conflict in the countryside.
“My order is to provide the land to the people,” President Rodrigo Duterte vowed last Thursday as he led the distributions of 12,548 Certificates of Land Ownership Award covering 24,000 hectares in this region to 13,585 agrarian reform beneficiaries.
The President urged the residents here not to be duped by the promises of the communist group who continue to take “advantage” of the people in the countryside, particularly the farmers.
He urged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) to return to the folds of the law and shun the armed struggle, which he said has been creating “social dysfunction” in the country.
“I feel angry when soldiers, policemen, and even members of the NPA are getting killed because we are all Filipinos,” he told the residents here.
“If you surrender, I will give you habitable houses, skills for livelihood, and jobs,” the President said in the vernacular referring to the members of the communist groups.
Free land distribution is one of the integral key points in the now terminated peace talks between the government and the Communist groups.
President Duterte has earlier vowed that land reform will continue to be implemented despite the cancelation of the talks with the Left.
More than 100,000 hectares have already been distributed to the agrarian reform beneficiaries under the Duterte administration.
During the land distributions ceremony, General Santos Mayor Ronnel Rivera pointed out that problem with “land tenure” is one of the underlying causes of “social conflict.”
Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr, who was present during the ceremony, said land distribution will create an enabling environment for the localized peace talks to prosper on the ground.
“This act shows the sincerity of the government in addressing the underlying causes of the conflict in the country,” Galvez said.
The localized peace talks are part of the efforts under the Whole-of-Nation-Approach to end the armed conflict.
Galvez said land distribution will also help in the government’s efforts to improve the human security conditions in the country.
“With the determination of President Duterte to address the fundamentals of the problem in our society, we at the Office of the Presidential Peace Adviser on the Peace Process is resolute in our quest towards a sustainable and enduring peace,” he said.