House Agriculture Committee Chair and ANAC-IP Rep. Jose T. Panganiban expressed support for the plan of President Rodrigo Duterte to place Negros Island under land reform, saying this would go a long way towards addressing the insurgency problem in the country.

Last week, the President announced that he was mulling placing Negros island under land reform as he thinks the insurgency in Negros are linked to land conflicts in the area.

“Siyempre, suportado natin ‘yan. In fact, I urge our President to speed up the implementation of land reform across the whole country, not only in Negros Island,” the solon said.

Panganiban said political will is needed to fully implement land redistribution, and that the opportunity to achieve this under a president who enjoys a strong mandate, even midway through his term, should not be wasted.

“The Department of Agrarian Reform says it will take a decade to distribute land to agrarian reform beneficiaries, but maybe we are selling ourselves short. I think, given the President’s commitment to this issue, we can gain serious momentum in our land reform efforts,” said the legislator.

“I think, given the President’s commitment to this issue, we can gain serious momentum in our land reform efforts.”

Data from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) reveals that as of 2018, some 561,131 hectares of both public and private agricultural lands remain undistributed. It would take at least a decade to distribute these lands at an annual distribution target of 50,000 hectares, the DAR said.

Panganiban, however, warned that simply redistributing land to farmers would not solve the issue of insurgency in rural areas.

He said that land reform is only one aspect of giving justice to farmers, as providing support services so farmers can make the land productive is just as important.

“Land reform is only one aspect of giving justice to farmers, as providing support services so farmers can make the land productive is just as important.”

Government should also provide easy access to affordable financing options, technology, and specialized knowledge, among others, the lawmaker added.

 

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