DAVAO CITY, Philippines – If private companies don't give back government lands they have not paid the proper taxes for, President Rodrigo Duterte will allow those lands to be "occupied."
"Within the next 3 months, those occupying government lands but did not pay taxes amounting to billions...If you don't give back the land to the government, then I will ask the Filipino people to occupy the lands that are in your hands," said Duterte on Monday, May 1, Labor Day.
Addressing thousands of workers in Davao City, he lambasted "oligarchs" who abused the government.
Duterte did not name specific companies or businessmen exploiting government lands. He said some of them supposedly benefited from erroneous land assessment by the Bureau of Internal Revenue during the time of its former chief Kim Henares.
Duterte said he will stark talking to the authorities, including BIR and the government offices that had owned the land.
To cheers and applause, Duterte said he would let workers occupy prime real estate in Metro Manila business districts like Makati and Pasay.
"It is yours. It cannot be theirs for all time," he said.
Duterte, who frequently declares he is a leftist at heart, professes to be an enemy of oligarchs or businessmen who have enjoyed influence over government.
Previously, he gave the urban poor group Kadamay government housing in Bulacan that they had been occupying for weeks.
He even asked policemen and military who had been promised the houses to just allow Kadamay members to have them "since they are poor." – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.