MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday vowed to pursue land reform in Masbate, as he sought to downplay communist influence over the impoverished Bicolano province.
Duterte stressed anew that land reform could be achieved even without the participation of the communists, which regard genuine land reform program as a cornerstone in any peace deal with the government.
“Ila-land reform ko ang Masbate. Maniwala kayo. Itaga niyo sa bato iyan, with or without the communist,” Duterte said in a speech during the Negosyo Serbisyo sa Barangay event in Masbate on Wednesday.
(I will pursue land reform in Masbate. Believe me. I will do that, with or without the communist.)
“Mayroon pa akong three years, uubusin ko itong Pilipinas. Uunahin ko iyong [lupa ng] gobyerno.”
(I still have three years, I will do this in all of the Philippines. I will prioritize government land.)
The communists see free distribution of agricultural land as a basic principle of genuine agrarian reform. This was among issues tackled by the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace panels before the talks collapsed in November 2017.
The government and communist peace panels held back channel talks to revive negotiations, but the government decided to halt the resumption of the formal peace talks last year as it decided to review all agreements between the communists and previous administrations.
The President has since been issuing tirades against communist leaders, calling their rebellion a “failed dream.”