By Reynard Magtoto
LEGAZPI CITY – With their continued support for Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary (DAR) Rafael ‘Ka Paeng’ Mariano on his confirmation hearing, farmers in Bicol believe Ka Paeng’s rejection would be equal to the rejection of genuine land reform and pro-farmer advocacies.
Farmers together with progressive groups in Bicol said they need Ka Paeng for genuine agrarian reform. They encouraged the people and organizations to rally and declare strong support for Ka Paeng as the most eligible and deserving DAR Secretary for the country.
The majority vote of the bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA) members on Wednesday, September 6, will be crucial in determining Mariano’s confirmation or rejection. His confirmation on August 30 and September 5 were deferred for the CA to “process and digest” information and issues.
“Decades have past, previous administrations promised to distribute the land for the farmers, but these promises remain as pacifiers to fool the people. Thousands of farmers are striving and fighting for their rights to have their own land to tilt,” Norberto Author of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Bicol (KMB) said.
With the system that runs in a country where the wealthy has more and poor has the less in all aspect of politics, economics and culture, we need the man who really serves for the people according to BAYAN-CamSur spokesperson Nelsy Rodriguez.
“The man who fights against all neoliberal, anti poor policies that control the system to exploit the masses. Struggle is real and until now the issue on land is still an ending fight between the farmers and the landlord,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez added “the Philippines despite known as agricultural country, many people still starve and the large percentage of people starving are on the sector of peasants. The one who creates food for the Million people doesn’t have food of his own.”
Ka Paeng’s service for farmers
Rodriguez agreed to KMB that the demand of farmers for Ka Paeng’s confirmation is free from illusions. The symbolic opening of DAR’s main gate by Ka Paeng as DAR secretary for the farmers was a proof that his leadership firmly stands for the farmers.
At the start of his term as DAR secretary, Mariano said he would ensure that no farmer will be displaced from the lands. The agency is set to implement a national inventory of lands to determine the state of distributed lands and verify the tenurial status of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs.)
The DAR under Mariano has conducted 209 dialogues and consultations with farmers nationwide with over 12,000 farmers in attendance as part of serious efforts to address the demands of farmers.
From July 2016 to May 2017, Mariano has distributed more than 24,177 hectares of land to 15,397 ARBs that received 13,322 Certificate of Land Ownership Awards. After the installation of farmer-beneficiaries to the land, Mariano ensures the provision of support services to beneficiaries and actual tillers. More than 25,400 land cases were resolved by DAR’s legal services.
Ka Paeng also served as Anakpawis Representative in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Congresses, where he filed bills aligned with his advocacies such as:
Farmers Security of Tenure Act (HB2591) – ensures that farmers are not evicted or harassed from their farmhold unless ordered by the court
Coconut Levy Funds Administration and Management Act of 2008 (HB 5011) – seeks creation of Coconut Industry Development Council to manage the Coco Levy Funds
Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill or GARB (HB 3059) – free land distribution to all landless farmers
Meanwhile, BAYAN-CamSur will not be surprised if CA will reject Ka Paeng. CA has a very callous reputation in terms of confirming the appointments of pro-people cabinet secretaries according to Rodriguez citing the CA rejection to former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez and former DSWD’s Judy Taguiwalo. (BaretangBikolnon.com)