The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) yesterday urged President Marcos to apply the principles of agrarian reform on public lands and distribute all agricultural areas held or owned by the government.

Former agriculture secretary and FFF chairman Leonardo Montemayor said some government agencies are flouting the provisions of Executive Order (EO) 75 issued by former president Rodrigo Duterte in 2019.

The EO requires all unclassified public lands and government-owned lands suitable for agriculture or no longer needed to achieve their original purpose, to be turned over to the Department of Agrarian Reform and distributed to qualified beneficiaries.

Montemayor made the appeal amid reported plans of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Department of Justice to lease out properties under their jurisdictions to private corporations.

He cited the DENR's recent announcement to bid out a million hectares of denuded forests to the private business groups.

Montemayor said tens of thousands of hectares of properties in government reservations are being utilized by agencies such as the Philippine Army and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

The BuCor and the Philippine Export Zone Authority are reportedly planning to convert at least 26,000 hectares of the 38,000-hectare Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Palawan into a major economic and manufacturing hub, Montemayor said.

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