MANILA - Malacanang on Wednesday confirmed that President Aquino held a dialogue Tuesday with farmers, even as the Chief Executive backed a bill extending the acquisition of lands for agrarian reform.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Aquino held talks with peasant leaders Arnel Figueroa of Pesante, Dorita Vargas of Hacienda Canticbil Manalo, Armando Jarilla of Task Force Mapalad, Organi Boing of the Bitangan Estate, Irene Cerilla of Pakisama, Maribel Luzara of the Kilusang Magbubukid sa Bundok Peninsula, and a Bishop Vazquez.
“Around 5 o'clock, he met with some farmers... and also with one evangelical bishop. Nandoon din si Congresswoman Kaka Bag-ao atsaka si Congressman Teddy Baguilat, mga agrarian reform advocates sa Kongreso," Lacierda said.
"Ang commitment ng ating Pangulo, he’s committed to the full implementation of the CARP (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program). So, he's committed to the full implementation of land acquisition and land distribution until 2016," he added.
"The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), under the leadership of Secretary Gil Delos Reyes, will pursue and continue to issue those notices of coverage on or before June 30."
The chief executive has certified as urgent House Bill No. 4296, or Mandating the Completion of the Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD) Component of the CARP.
The CARP expires at the end of the month with no extension passed.
The Palace earlier said no extension is needed to continue the distribution of land.
HB 4296 extends by one year the land acquisition component of CARP, which acquires lands and distributes them to farmers in accordance with the 1987 Constitution.
"We are committed and si Secretary Gil Delos Reyes is committed to implementing and issuing all these notices of coverage—the remaining notices of coverage,” Lacierda said.
He dismissed calls for Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes’ ouster.
“The job is difficult, quite difficult because you’re dealing with two opposing stakeholders: the farmers and the landowners, and it’s really quite difficult," he said.
"But we’re enforcing the law as it should be enforced and so Secretary Gil Delos Reyes has been doing a very difficult job of addressing both stakeholders."