President Duterte has instructed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to tap idle government lands in the effort to relocate Filipinos who were displaced by typhoon “Odette”.

RELOCATION PLAN–President Rodrigo Duterte (left) relays instructions to DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda during the “Talk to the People” public briefing on Dec. 27, 2021. The briefing was aired on Dec. 28. (Screenshot from Facebook live)

“Ang aking advice is, if mag-rehabilitate kayo ng isang community (My advice is, if you’ll rehabilitate a community), and you would want to look for the space, if it’s a government land, ibigay na ninyo lahat (give away all of it),” Duterte said during his pre-taped “Talk to the People” public briefing, which aired Tuesday morning, Dec. 28

“Those idle government lands, idle lang of the government that productive, better give it to the people right away,” he said.

Duterte gave the instruction to DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, who at that time was delivering a presentation on the assistance rendered by the agency to provinces ravaged by Odette, particularly Siargao.

“The DENR agreed that the people residing in the coastal areas would no longer be permitted to return. It’s for their safety,” Antiporda told the panel.

“In lieu of this, the DENR will distribute parcel of land as per the instruction also of our President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to qualified tenured migrants under the Protected Area Community-Based Resource Management Agreement (PACBaRMA),” he noted.

Antiporda assured the Chief Executive that the displaced locals would be relocated near their former residences.

“Malapit lang po (They’re nearby). Ito po’y mga (These are) protected areas po na pwede naman hong gamitan ng tenurial instrument (that may be used through a tenurial instrument),” he said, referring to PACBaRMA.

“Good. Mas mabuti yan (That’s better),” Duterte replied.

“Marami namang lupa ang gobyerno. Ibigay na lang niyo sa mga tao within the next few months. Pasa mo na lang sa…DAR para… (The government has a lot of lands. Just give them to the people within the next few months. Just pass it on to DAR so that) they can come in and…plan for these people in areas. Idagdag na lang niya yan sa (Just add that to) land reform,” the President explained.

President Duterte (MalacaƱang photo)

Duterte further said: “My sense is that yung lahat ng lupa na pwede ibigay sa mga tao (everything that’s we can give to the people), whether they were victims of the typhoon or not, ibigay na lang yung kaya nilang ibigay–kaya nating ibigay lahat (let’s give whatever we can give–we can give everything).”

The 76-year-old leader said that the agencies need only to act with haste.

“If you want to improve the place, you have to deal with people and most of them are marginalized or really very poor na walang malipatan (who have nowhere else to go). So kailangan, bilisan ninyo nang konti (So you just need to act quickly).”

The widespread destruction caused by Odette nearly two weeks ago has prompted the President to declare a state of calamity in six regions in the Philippines. Hundreds of thousands of people were left homeless by the storm, authorities said.

Duterte wished that the existing law would allow him to make state of calamity declarations sooner.

The public briefing was recorded on Monday night.

Source: Manila Bulletin (