CTUHR expresses dismay over the rejection of Commission on Appointment (CA) of Rafael Mariano as Secretary of Department of Agrarian Reform after heading the department for over a year. The decision was not really surprising, What was startling about it was that the Commission on Appointment was really quick this time, in sealing the administration’s departure from the last vestige of its so-called pro-poor contract. Duterte administration had turned his back from the farmers.

The rejections of former Gina Lopez as DENR Secretary and Judy Taguiwalo as DSWD chief, the CA did not use valid reason to reject Mariano and instead harangued him with the alleged link to New People’s Army (NPA) attacks on Lapanday facilities on April 29 of this year. Mariano was already the Department Secretary. The same accusation was hurled against Judy Taguiwalo, when her rejection was met by strong public criticisms. President Duterte lamely said that the Conditional Cash Transfer was channeled to finance the NPA which nobody believed.

In more than one year of service, Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano brought hopes to millions of farmers’ clamoring for genuine agrarian reform. He has to a certain extent created a mark in farmer’s lives. He expedited what the farmers already won in the law, by distributing the 145 hectares land in Tagum City occupied by Agri-business firm, Lapanday Food Corporation to Magdaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (MARBAI) and 370 hectares land of Hacienda Luisita. More than 31, farmers received CLOA while 28, 000 agrarian law issues have been resolved. He endorsed the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (HB 555) that will effect free land distribution. He is a farmers’ leaders and even while in the cabinet he remained faithful to the farmers and supported their fight for the right to own the land they till. Mariano is the head of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, was born and live the life of farmers.

C A’s rejection of Paeng Mariano opened the door again for landlords, oligarchs and local and multinational corporations to take the farmers’ land without impediments. Indeed, this is a disservice to farmers that had long suffered particularly from landlord and corporate greed. Landlords like the Conjuangco- Aquino, Lorenzo and their minions aided by security forces, are accountable for the many violations of agricultural workers’ rights including extrajudicial killings. With Mariano gone, violations will persist and likely to escalate.#


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