Duterte promises free irrigation to farmers if elected president

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Mayor Duterte told farmers that he would help them out with access to financing.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Presidential bet and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte met up with farmers in Tarlac City on Monday (February 8) — the eve of the official start of election campaign for national candidates.

Unlike his usual speeches on fighting crime and corruption, this time Duterte went to a ricefield and told farmers in "Aquino country" that helping out the agriculture industry was among his platforms should he occupy the highest office of the land.

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When local residents told him about their problems in water supply, Duterte said he would see to it that irrigation would be free to farmers if he makes it to Malacañan Palace.

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Another problem facing the farmers was financing — to which Duterte said he would solve by coursing credit access through cooperatives.

The mayor, however, didn't say anything about the full distribution of Hacienda Luisita — which remained covered by the government's agrarian reform program and a touchy subject for the president's Cojuangco-Aquino clan.

Duterte said he believed he would be the only one who can deliver on his promises because he did not accept campaign money from businessmen — and therefore, would not be beholden to them in case he wins the presidential race.

CNN Philippines' Ina Andolong contributed to this report.