Duterte invites Tagum farmers to Manila Hotel dinner

President Rodrigo Duterte asks the farmers from Davao del Norte to give him more time to resolve their land issue with Lapanday Foods Corporation

DISCUSSION. President Rodrigo Duterte, outside of his schedule, listens to the concerns being raised by more than 200 farmers from the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Incorporated occupying Mendiola on May 9, 2017. All photos from Malacañang

MANILA, Philippines – After meeting hundreds of farmers in Mendiola on Tuesday, May 9, President Rodrigo Duterte invited them to a dinner at the Manila Hotel and offered to send them home to Davao del Norte.

“Kumain na kayo ng hapunan (Did you eat dinner already)?” Duterte asked around 200 farmers from the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Incorporated (Marbai) in San Isidro Farm.

They answered no. (LOOK: Duterte meets picketing Davao del Norte farmers)

“Bong, mag-reserve ka ng 200 sa Manila Hotel (Bong, go and reserve 200 seats at the Manila Hotel),” Duterte then told Special Assistant to the President Bong Go.

He continued: “Basta ‘yung naka-barong lahat doon, naka-gown, ‘wag ninyong pansinin ‘yon. Hindi tayo magkakilala. Sabi ni Mayor, dito kami magkain ng hapunan, Manila Hotel. Para makatikim kayo.”

(Don’t mind the people there wearing barongs and gowns. We don’t know each other. “Mayor told us we should eat here, at the Manila Hotel.” So you can taste the food there.)

But he added that if there are no more seats available at the Manila Hotel, “we can’t force our way in.”

“So ug wala, pangita mo ug kanang… unsay gwapo na restaurant diri? Dili kanang – basta kanang lami, kanang lami. Tagaan tamog bus para ma sakyan ninyo. Unya pag uli ninyo – unsa pag uli ninyo mag truck mo? Pila ka adlaw? Tulo?”

(So if there are no seats anymore, just find…. Where’s a good restaurant here? Not the kind that – just as long as it’s delicious. I’ll give you a bus for all of you to ride on. When you go home.… How will you go home? Will you ride a truck? For how many days? Three?)

Duterte then offered to send the farmers home.

“Sige, kaon mo unya uli na mo. Dili mo magkapareho og eroplano siguro kay dos cientos kabuok. Lahi lahing eroplano unya lahi lahing oras. Pero una mo mangadto sa airport, muhawa na mo ngari unya mularga na mo,” he told the farmers.

(Okay, eat and then go home already. You probably won’t be riding on the same planes because there are 200 of you. You’ll be riding on different airplanes that will leave at different schedules. But before you go to the airport, you leave here and then fly back home.)

He even joked: “Naa mo bus unya pakan-a na daan kay mahagbong sila. Katapusang… Last supper. Ibaligya nato. Kaon mo unya hinay hinay mo manglarga kay iba ibang oras ‘yan, basta i-book ko kayo sa eroplano.”

(We will provide a bus for you. Let them eat first because their plane might crash. It will be the end…. Last supper. We’ll sell it. Have your meals so you can depart because you’ll all be leaving at different hours. I will book you plane tickets.)

‘Give me time’

The farmers picketed at the Mendiola Bridge near Malacañang on Tuesday and asked the President to enforce the installation order made by Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael Mariano in April.

The farmers said they were forcibly evicted in 2011 by Lapanday Foods Corporation (LFC), the owner of the rest of San Isidro Farm.

On Tuesday, Duterte asked the farmers to give him more time.

“Tutal sadya na talagang pinili ninyo ako, bigyan ‘nyo ako ng kaunting panahon. Nangyayari naman lahat. Ang pangako ko na corruption muna. Talaga-talaga, ayaw ko talaga ng korupsyon, papatay ako ng tao diyan basta korupsyon,” he added.

(Since you really chose me, give me more time. Everything is happening already. I promise to fight crime first. I really don’t like corruption, I will kill a person when it comes to corruption).

He advised the farmers to “refrain from coming back here too much because the leader is already here, the Secretary of DAR.”

“Ayaw na mo ana basta og kanang balaod pabor ninyo, pabor gyud na sa inyo. Dili ako. Kung dili pabor sa inyo, mangita ta og paagi, dili lang pugsa kay… Manguli na mo didto.”

(If the law is in favor of you, it will really work in your favor, not mine. If it’s not in your favor, we’ll find another way, but don’t force your way…. Go home.)

In a statement on Tuesday night, LFC again insisted that they obtained a “final and executory order” in September 2011, which details a compromise agreement between the company and the Hijo Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative-1 (Hearbco-1).

“It is this order, restated in further subsequent orders, that must be respected by all parties as a sign of compliance with the requirements of the law,” the company said.

LFC said it believes that the President, as a lawyer and “chief law enforcer…understands that a final and executory judgment on a case is the ultimate proof that justice and fairness prevailed.” – Rappler.com