MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday warned sugar barons to return agrarian reform land to farmers, saying they could be "forced to surrender" the property as soon as a complainant comes forward.
It has been a practice for sugar barons to repurchase agrarian reform land earlier turned over to farmers, Duterte said in a speech in Cebu.
"I'd like to be frank with you all. Ang batas sa panahon ko, batas talaga. Bitawan niyo na 'yan ulit," he said.
(I'd like to be frank with you all. The law during my presidency is really the law. Let go of those properties again.)
"Kung may nagreklamo sa akin na mga tauhan at kung sinabing ibinenta nila, hindi nila nakuha [ang lupa], then I will force you to surrender [it]," he said.
(If a farmhand files a complaint that his land was bought from him, he did not receive it, then I will force you to surrender it.)
Duterte did not mention particular sugar estates, but said that the feudal practice was rampant in Bacolod and Central Luzon.
Last month, the President slammed the exemption of the Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac from the land reform program, calling it the "greatest aberration."