DAR chief to join GRP-NDF talks on socioeconomic reforms

TAGUM CITY (MindaNews/19 May) – Agrarian Reform Ssecretary Rafael Mariano will participate in the fifth round of peace talks between the government (GRP) and National Democratic Front (NDF) on May 26 to June 2, 2017 in Noorwijk aan Zee, The Netherlands.

The fifth round of talks will tackle, among others, agrarian reform and rural development provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

Mariano will sit as GRP panel’s consultant on CASER.

Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano addresses farmers from Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Inc. after they were installed at the plantation in Madaum, Tagum City managed by Lapanday Foods Corporation on Thursday, 18 May 2017. MindaNews photo by Manman Dejeto

In an interview Thursday, the agrarian reform chief said he joined the meetings between the bilateral teams of GRP and NDFP, which were created during the April 3 to 6 round of talks, also in the Netherlands, to work on the contentious provisions on socioeconomic reforms.

The bilateral teams composed of three members from each side and supervised by reciprocal working committees “to work on the sections on the agrarian reform and rural development and National Industrialization and Economic Development.”

During the fourth round of talks, the reciprocal working committees on CASER exchanged their respective comparative “color-coded matrices” identifying both contentious and acceptable provisions of the CASER drafts submitted by both parties.

These contentious provisions were then clustered into nine major topics: coverage, confiscation, compensation, lease/ leaseback and plantations, international agreements/domestic law, political power/implementation mechanisms, land use, private insurance, and terminologies.

Mariano said the results of the meetings of the bilateral teams will be presented in the next round of talks.

He said both parties agreed on free land distribution as the “basic principle” of agrarian reform.

In the fifth round of talks, the reciprocal working committees will discuss and work on the remaining items under Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (Part IV), National Industrialization and Economic Development (Part V), Environmental Protection, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Part VI), and the outputs of the bilateral teams.

“(Kami) nakikiisa sa mamamayan natin na magkakaroon pa ng substantial na progreso ang peace negotiations (We are one with our people in their aspiration for substantial progress in the peace negotiations),” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)