The Duterte administration is continuously addressing the long-standing pleas of farmers and indigenous peoples (IPs) for genuine land reform, Malacañang said Thursday.

This, after labor leader and presidential candidate Leodegario “Ka Leody” de Guzman called on the government to address land grabbing which has led to mass exodus of IPs from their ancestral lands.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte remains committed to delivering genuine agrarian reform in the country,” acting presidential spokesperson Martin Andanar said in a press statement.

Citing government data, Andanar said the administration distributed 229,289 hectares of agricultural lands from July 2016 to May 2021, benefitting 166,217 Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries.

He said the government also issued 57 Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs), covering 993,345.17 hectares of ancestral domains, which benefited 257,047 indigenous peoples from 2016 to June 2021.

“We therefore assure our people, including Ka Leody de Guzman, that our efforts to provide lands to landless farmers will continue until the end of the President’s term,” he added.

On Tuesday, De Guzman’s party, the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), said the meeting with the leaders of the Manobo-Pulangiyon tribe in Barangay Butong was marred by gunshots.

At least five people were injured, four of them members of the Manobo-Pulangihon indigenous tribe.

The shooting came as the tribe protested the alleged land-grabbing incident of their ancestral land.

The tribe claims that their families were forcibly relocated from their settlement along the Pulangi River to the disputed area.

De Guzman’s camp said they were within a property of more than 900 hectares reportedly being administered by Quezon town Mayor Pablo Lorenzo III in Sitio Kiantig, Barangay San Jose when a group of 50 men fired shots at them.

The land in Sitio Kiantig is disputed by the Manobo-Pulangihon and Kiantig Development Corporation which controls the Kiantig Pineapple Company.

De Guzman said the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) has recognized the Manobos’ ancestral domain. However, the tribe’s formal title to the land is taking a long time to be issued.

He called on Duterte to order an investigation on land-grabbing before his term ends.

Malacañang condemned the incident and called for a thorough investigation.

“Violence has no place in any civilized society and we condemn the incident in Bukidnon where gunshots were allegedly fired against the camp of Ka Leody de Guzman,” Andanar said. (PNA)

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