Day 42 of the Sumilao farmers’ journey to Malacanang

After walking 15 kilometers, they stopped at the Sagrada de Familia Parish, Colakling, Camarines Sur, and ate their breakfast.   They feasted and shared the simple meal prepared by the parishioners and support group.

While taking a brief rest at the Parish, Danny Buclasan took the opportunity to share to the parishioners the history of their struggle.    A short but lively discussion soon followed when the parishioners started to ask questions.  The farmers were happy to note that the parishioners attentively listened to the sharing.

From Coakling, the farmers resumed their walk and reached the municipality of Ragay, which is their destination for the day, at around 12:30 PM.   There they sought refuge at the Ragay Parish Church.

All in all, they traversed a total of 26 kilometers. 

While at the parish church, they took some rest.  Others maximized the time attending to their personal concerns. 

It was a difficult day for them, especially so that their "resident" doctor, Dr. Grace Bag-ao (Dok G) was not around to tend to the marchers who are not feeling well. 

Dok G had to leave the march because of a broken leg.  She was rushed to the hospital in Naga City two days ago after she involuntarily fell on her feet.   An operation was strongly advised by the doctor.

Fortunately, Dok G was able to train some marchers to become paramedics.  Through them, the task of individually attending to the health of the marchers became easier.  

Hence, in the absence of Dok G, the paramedic team somehow managed to assist those who need medical attention.    

When the sun set, and before they partook their dinner, the Sumilao Farmers joined the parishioners who offered to pray the rosary for the blessing and guidance of the farmers.   It was a solemn moment.  Everyone knelt and asked for guidance as they renew their commitment to continue their struggle – until they reach Malacanang. 

By nightfall, most of the farmers had fallen asleep early, but the members of the Team Leaders Pool still convened and planned for their next day's journey. They also agreed on the messages they need to emphasize during media interviews or on occasions where they will be invited to speak before the public.

Today, they are negotiating the roads from Ragay to del Gallego.  Tomorrow, they will continue walking until they reach Tabugon. 


Revisiting the Sumilao Case:


 The Office of the DAR Secretary has the jurisdiction and expertise to decide the cancellation of the conversion order.  In the words of former Chief Justice Panganiban, "All controversies on the implementation of the CARP fall under the jurisdiction of the DAR, even though they raise questions that are also legal and constitutional in nature. All doubts should be resolved in favor of DAR, since the law granted it special and original authority to hear and adjudicate agrarian matters."

The foregoing statement has for its basis Sec. 17 of Executive Order No. 229 which states that DAR shall exercise "quasi-judicial powers to determine and adjudicate agrarian reform matters, and shall have exclusive jurisdiction over all matters involving implementation of agrarian reform, except those falling under the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture." 

The basis of this quasi-judicial power of DAR is found and has been further clarified by Republic Act No. 6657, thus: 

Sec. 50. Quasi-Judicial Powers of the DAR – The DAR is hereby vested with primary jurisdiction to determine and adjudicate agrarian reform matters and shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over all matters involving the implementation of agrarian reform, except those falling under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources xxx. (underscoring supplied) 

In the case at bar, since the law provides that the authority to grant conversion orders lies with the DAR, it is only logical that the authority to revoke or cancel such authority also lies with the DAR. To reiterate, at the risk of being redundant, the DAR has shirked away from its duty to determine whether or not the cancellation of the conversion order is proper given the prevailing circumstances and the clear legal provisions relevant hereto.   

The function and mandate of the department secretaries is precisely to assist the President in the implementation of laws. This is exemplified under Section 7 (Powers and Functions of the President) of the Administrative Code of 1987 which states that the Secretary shall:

"(1) Advise the president in issuing executive orders, regulations, and other issuances xxx;

(2) Establish the policies and standards for the operation of the Department pursuant to the approved programs of government;

(3) Promulgate rules and regulations necessary to carry out department objectives, policies, functions, plans, programs, and projects; xxx " 

Balay Alternative Legal Advocates for Development in Mindanaw (BALAOD Mindanaw)

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