The Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) is looking into the procurement and renting of lands in rice-producing provinces by some foreigners prompting the commission to coordinate with relevant government agencies to address the possible effects of this activity to the country’s food security in the long run.

PAOCC Executive Director and Undersecretary Gilberto Cruz said the anti-crime body received reports of foreigners actively buying parcels of land in Nueva Ecija, several other rice-producing provinces, and Palawan facing the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

“We are coordinating with the DAR [Department of Agrarian Reform] and DILG [Department of the Interior and Local Government]. We will give them the information that we received. Perhaps they know the local population in these areas so they can also conduct an investigation,” Cruz said in a radio interview.

He noted that some foreigners initially rent a portion of a rice field for ₱80,000 to ₱100,000 per hectare before eventually buying the entire plot.

He said an ordinary farmer will be happy with such a deal because it’s “sure money.”

A hectare of land will be rented and the farmer will earn from it without even breaking a sweat.

“But if we look at it in the long run, these foreigners can control what agricultural products can be planted on these lands,” he said.

He added that these foreigners, particularly Chinese, could then control the price of the produce.

“Maybe later on, the foreigners can control our food security because they own our lands,” Cruz said.

This comes after Catholic Bishop Broderick Pabillo of the Apostolic Vicariate of Taytay urged the national government to investigate foreigners frequently visiting Taytay, Palawan, and actively buying lands in the area.

“Wala naman kaming nakikitang sightings, pero may mga naririnig ako na may mga namimili ng lupa. Baka mga Chinese yun, o baka mga agent sa mga Chinese, yan ang mga namimili ng lupa. Lalong-lalo na yung facing the West Philippine Sea… coastal area kami, at malaking coastal area kami facing the West Philippine Sea,” Pabillo earlier said in an interview.

Pabillo said this should be thoroughly checked and investigated.

He emphasized the need to scrutinize and investigate those purchasing land, who are likely using dummy buyers and immediately providing money.

“Nagsusumbong na yung mga tao na marami nang umiikot-ikot, na naghahanap ng mabibiling lupa… siyempre hindi naman talaga magpo-front yang mga Chinese. Maghahanap ng Piilipino yan. Pero kung sino ba talaga ang behind them, yung mga Pilipino na naghahanap ng lupa, dapat imbestigahan,” Pabillo said.

“This time, mas nakakatakot. Kasi noon nagbi-bid ng lupa ang mga Pilipino kasi maganda yung dagat, tourism, pero ngayon baka may lumalabas na other agenda,” Pabillo added.