President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday afternoon left the Presidential Palace and proceeded to the rallying farmers from Mindanao protesting near the Chino Roces Bridge at Mendiola, Quiapo to speak to them and hear them out.
The protesters, from Tagum City, Davao del Norte and numbering about 200 farmers and farm workers, claimed they should have been beneficiaries of the government’s agrarian reform program but were deprived of their rightful claims.
They have been protesting for a week after allegedly being prevented by the agro-industrialist Lapanday Corporation from occupying the 145 hectares of land, for which Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano has issued installation orders last April 18 under the Madaum Agrarian Reform Project.
They were prevented from doing so by guards of Lapanday, they said.
President Duterte told them that he sides with them on this matter, but encouraged them to bear with due process in resolving the dispute, even as he warned the landed oligarchs that he will allow their properties to be occupied if they fail to satisfactorily settle their fiscal delinquencies, like taxes.
He also called on the courts to act expeditiously on the cases so as not to subject the aggrieved parties to unnecessary difficulties and delays.
He told the protesters that they could fly back to Mindanao at no cost, as he will arrange for their transport, on top of giving them a P1,000 cash assistance each.
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