PRESIDENT Rodrigo Roa Duterte took time out from his busy schedule to preside over the weekend in North Cotabato the single-day biggest land distribution in the history of the country’s land reform program.
President Duterte, assisted by Agrarian Reform Secretary John R. Castriciones, distributed 11,443 hectares of agricultural land to 6,424 farmer-beneficiaries from Kidapawan City and 17 municipalities of North Cotabato, one of the provinces in Central Mindanao (Region 12).
The record-setting feat broke the previous single-day land distribution of more than 10,000 hectares, which also took place in Mindanao, in the province of Bukidnon, in September 1990.
The milestone took place under the stewardship of DAR-Central Mindanao regional director Felix Aguhob, who incidentally was the provincial agrarian reform officer of Bukidnon when the previous record was accomplished.
President Duterte, however, would not want to take credit for the new land distribution record, taking it as just another accomplishment that nobody, not even him, should take credit for.
“Huwag niyo na akong purihin dahil bayad na ako. Nasa gobyerno ako kaya huwag kayong magpasalamat sa akin. Hindi ko naman lupa iyan. Trabaho ko iyan at binabayaran ako. (Don’t praise me for I am already paid. I am in the government so don’t thank me. It’s not my (farm) land, anyway. It’s my job and I am paid for it),” the President said before a relatively full-packed gymnasium inside the North Cotabato Provincial Capitol.
He added: “I do not accept award. Nakokornihan ako (It sounds corny for me).”
The President even prodded DAR Secretary Castriciones to place under CARP all government agricultural lands and distribute them to the landless and needy farmers.
“Ipailalim mo na sa CARP ang mga lupa ng gobyerno at ipamingay mo na,” Duterte said in his verbal directive to the DAR Secretary.
Castriciones commended the men and women of the DAR-Central Mindanao for a job well-done. He said this is a testimony of their hard work and in compliance to the order of President Duterte to fast track land acquisition and distribution to landless farmers.
“This is for the love of President Duterte for our small farmers,” he said, adding that it is the first step towards raising the standards of living of small farmers in the countryside.
Undersecretary for Finance, Management and Administration Lucius “Jun Jun” Malsi cautioned the DAR-Central Mindanao personnel not to sit on their laurels for long.
“Since it’s you who stirred the competition, don’t wait for another 20 years or so to break your record,” Malsi said.