PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte wanted the former communist rebels to be included in the government's land reform program, Malacañang said on Thursday, February 7.
The President made the pronouncement during his meeting with his Cabinet at Malacañan Palace on Wednesday, February 6, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
"The President directed the inclusion of New People’s Army surrenderers in the next round of land distribution," the Palace official said.
Duterte's latest directive was in line with his promise to give better life to members of the communists' armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), who will surrender and return to the fold of the law.
The President has repeatedly called on the NPA rebels to surrender, assuring them that he was ready to give them jobs and free housing units to allow them to have a comfortable life.
Panelo said the Chief Executive gave the order, as he and Cabinet officials had been informed by the Land Bank of the Philippines that some 361,000 farmers with existing individual Certificates of Land Ownership Awards would be qualified for a bank loan.
Also at the Cabinet meeting, the Department of Agrarian Reform talked about the streamlining of internal processes of all agencies involved in land use conversion, including the imposition of definite timelines for its processing such as the provision of government permits, Panelo noted.
Meantime, the Palace official said programs for improving the lives of farmers and fisherfolk were also discussed.
Panelo said Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol had reported the "bucket list" for implementation of programs that will benefit farmers and fishermen.
"These are farm-to-market roads, irrigation, which includes solar-powered irrigation system to be financed by an Israeli company, storage facilities, activation of regional food terminals and strengthening of the ro-ro programs, easy access credit for farmers, institutionalization of a farmer/fisherfolk credit union, and the creation of a cabinet cluster headed by the President," he said. (SunStar Philippines)