Pres. Duterte threatens to ‘heavily’ tax idle lands

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday threatened to impose higher real estate tax on idle lands if these have not been developed for at least the last 20 years.

In his speech during the launching of the ‘Hardin ng Lunas’ (Garden of Healing) at the Presidential Security Group (PSG) compound in Malacanang, President Duterte said owners of idle lands are just waiting for the value of their lands to increase before they would use them.

“I will tax idle lands heavily. If it hasn’t been developed for 10 to 20 years, I will double its real estate tax or triple unless you are willing to lend it to somebody or to the barangay for the people to use it,” President Duterte warned.

He said idle lands throughout the country should be used for agriculture to produce more rice and vegetables not only for the Philippines but for other Asian countries like China.

“China now is our friend. After my visit there, they are accepting all, even vegetables. It’s not even enough for 1 billion Chinese. They cannot cope up with food production. They have to buy,” President Duterte said.

President Duterte said Mindanao used to be the land of promise but the Spaniards and the Americans took over, they divided Mindanao into several pieces of real estates and awarded to the Insulares or the Spaniards who never went back to Spain, and the American soldiers.

“But they have no workers and so we decide to make a clarion call of like sloganeering: you go to Mindanao because it is the land of promise but actually, in reality, there is none already,” he explained.

President Duterte lauded the people including Dr. Issa Sunta, Dona Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay, Brigadier General Joselito Bautista, the men and women of the PSG for using the PSG’s vacant lots to initiate ‘Hardin ng Lunas’.

“It might really be symbolic. It cannot supply food even for five neighborhoods but if all the Filipinos are like them, we will have no problem,” Duterte said.

President Duterte said the Philippines could have been better off if the money intended for ‘Biyayang Dagat’ and rice self-sufficiency ‘Masagana 99’ programs were not corrupted by government officials during the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos.

“When it comes to brain, I said he (Marcos) was the most enterprising President that we ever had,” Duterte said.

The President reiterated his promised to eradicate corruption as well as crimes and drugs.

“I do not care if I go down history as the most unpopular, that’s okay for me, as long as during my time, everybody follows the law,” he said.