DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/29 August) – Members of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (MARBAI) in Barangay Madaum, Tagum City called on members of the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) to confirm left-leaning Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano.
The CA will decide on Mariano’s fate on Wednesday, Aug. 30.
In a phone interview Tuesday, MARBAI vice chair Salvador Barcebal Jr. said they hope the CA would confirm Mariano, who helped them reclaim the 145-hectare banana plantation from the management of Lorenzo-owned Lapanday Foods Corporation on May 18, after two failed attempts.
Barcebal said that although they had been installed, the farmers feared they would be displaced again if the CA rejects Mariano.
“We hope they would confirm Ka Paeng Mariano because he was of great help in pursuing agrarian reform. He helped us, MARBAI farmers, return to our property as legitimate owners,” he said.
He said they demand Mariano’s confirmation because there are still several displaced farmers who need his help to be installed and recognized as owners of their lands.
Around 200 farmers held a rally at the Freedom Park along Roxas Avenue to call for the confirmation of Mariano.
Barcebal said farmers from Hijo Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative and Gagmayng Maguuma Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Inc. Joined MARBAI in the protest action.
He said they are calling on President Rodrigo R. Duterte to support the confirmation of the DAR chief, following the rejection of former Social Welfare secretary Judy Taguiwalo.
Last May 9, Duterte met with around 200 farmers of MARBAI who held a picket from April 29 to May 12 on Chino Roces Avenue in Manila. Farmers returned home on May 13.
Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said in a statement that Mariano’s confirmation is “crucial to President Rodrigo Duterte’s promise of an inclusive governance and for fundamental reforms.”
“If the CA rejects Ka Paeng, we could wave goodbye to the president’s pledge for an inclusive governance, and say hello again deplorably to a rule of big hacienderos, oligarchs and militarists,” Casilao said.
He maintained that Mariano’s appointment as DAR chief “led to its positive and speedy response to farmers’ grievances on agrarian cases, and instrumental to the inclusion of the genuine agrarian reform via free distribution of land in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) and on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (Caser) of the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). “
Describing him as the “last beam of hope of poor sectors in the Duterte cabinet,”he said rejecting Mariano [as DAR secretary] will erase the little optimism of the farmers.
He urged the President and CA members “to uphold inclusive governance for the benefit of the people, otherwise, this administration would only reap the unrest, primarily from the peasant sector who are already at present occupying hacienda lands across the country.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)