Informal settlement remains a “very serious” problem in the Philippines, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said Sunday.
“Nobody but nobody can solve it except the Filipino and ‘yung workers sa government nakatutok talaga (workers of government who are really focused on it),” Duterte said during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Pampanga Provincial Hospital-Clark in San Fernando City, Pampanga.
He reiterated his call to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to ensure that all idle government-owned lands are distributed to the needy before he steps down in June.
“My orders to the Department of Agrarian Reform, basta lahat ng lupa ng sa gobyerno ‘pag may squatters na, ibigay mo na (if there are squatters staying in government-owned land, just give it to them),” he said.
Duterte said he does not want to hear excuses about so-called plans to utilize the land in the future.
“Do not give me about – that a certain land or lot will be utilized by this department, blah, blah, blah. At magdaan na lang ang mga ilang administrasyon hindi naman ninyo nagamit, eh ibigay mo na sa tao (Many administrations passed and you did not even utilize it, so just give it to the people),” he said.
The government, he said, has enough money to purchase new lands should they be needed in the future.
“Do not hang on to a property that’s idle or talagang hindi talaga magamit (that can no longer be used). Kung magamit man (If it does get used), it could be about two administrations from now. So pagka ganoon sabi ko ibigay mo na at magbili ang gobyerno ng ano bagong lupa tutal hindi naman nawawalaan ng pera ang gobyerno sa totoo lang (In that case, I said just give it away and the government can buy new lands. Anyway, the government will never run out of funds),” he said.
Duterte has repeatedly jested about being the President who has given the most in terms of land distribution.
To date, government-owned lands were distributed to qualified beneficiaries across the country, particularly in geographically and isolated areas infiltrated by the New People’s Army.
OnFeb. 15, 2019, Duterte signed Executive Order No. 75 which orders all agencies to identify government-owned lands that can be distributed to beneficiaries.
Under the EO, DAR was directed to acquire all government-owned lands devoted to or suitable for agriculture but are no longer actually, directly, and exclusively used for the purpose for which they have been reserved so they can be distributed to qualified beneficiaries.
Last month, Duterte expressed hope that his successor will continue the land reform program of his administration.