We, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) a mission partner of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) reiterate our steadfast support to the confirmation of veteran peasant leader and former Anakpawis Party-list representative Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano as secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform.
A year ago, President Duterte appointed Ka Paeng Mariano as secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and right off the bat, Ka Paeng proved his competence and was among the most hardworking and respectable in the Duterte Cabinet.
Ka Paeng promised that no farmer will be displaced from their lands during his term in office. One of his very first action was to propose for a two-year moratorium on land use conversion to put the brakes on rampant conversion of agricultural lands for other uses. Land use conversion is among the many ways landlords play on to go around land reform and has resulted to the eviction and displacement of peasants and farmworkers from the land they till. The moratorium on land use conversion caters to the rights of farmers and a means to ensure food security by preserving prime agricultural lands.
Within his first one hundred days in office, Ka Paeng ordered the distribution of 358.22-hectare Tarlac Development Corporation (Tadeco) landholding, part of the vast sugar estate Hacienda Luisita in Barangays Balete and Cut-Cut in Tarlac City. He also directed the department’s provincial office in Tarlac to immediately proceed with and complete the land acquisition and distribution process over the subject properties.
Ka Paeng also played a huge part in the installation of 159 members of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (MARBAI) in the 145-hectare San Isidro (Sanid) farm area inside the former Hijo Plantation in Tagum, Davao del Norte.
Ka Paeng have been bypassed by the Commission on Appointments (CA) twice and the current CA has approved a rule that a Cabinet member may only be bypassed three times. After which, the CA will have to reject or confirm the concerned official. Thus, the stakes are high in his next confirmation hearing.
Various peasant groups and agrarian reform advocates including the RMP have expressed their resolute support to Ka Paeng. Ka Paeng’s commitment to serving the Filipino farmers has been established through decades of fighting for the advancement of genuine agrarian reform.
The opposition to Ka Paeng’s confirmation signifies the prevailing interests of the landlords over the interests of the Filipino masses, particularly the rural sectors in the present administration. Gina Lopez’ and Judy Taguiwalo’s rejection proved that there are lawmakers who were looking out only for themselves and their interest. Similarly, the Congress is full of lawmakers who will put their interests first and will cling to their haciendas and farmlands especially if they have been able to evade agrarian reform all these years.
Confirm Ka Paeng!
Genuine Agrarian Reform, Now!
Rural Missionaries of the Philippines
August 25, 2017