“The marching order to reject Mariano came directly from Malacañang and President Duterte.” — KMP
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — Farmers maintained that the Commission on Appointments’ (CA) rejection of Rafael Mariano as agrarian reform secretary is “another proof of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fealty to landlords and oligarchs.”
Thirteen members of the CA voted against Mariano’s appointment, Sept. 6.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said the “marching order to reject Mariano came directly from Malacañang and President Duterte.”
The CA based its decision on a Regional Development Council (RDC) resolution linking Mariano to the attack of New Peoples Army (NPA) guerrillas on the facilities of Lapanday Food Corporation (LFC) last April. Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte whose husband lawyer Manases Carpio serves as the legal counsel of LFC signed the resolution. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces of the Philippines head Eduardo Año also signed the resolution vilifying Mariano.
Mariano said the accusation was baseless.
The KMP said the Lorenzo-owned LFC has been contesting Mariano’s installation of 153 farmer-beneficiaries of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (Marbai) to the land being claimed by the Lorenzos in Tagum City.
The Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (Uma) said it was not surprising that of the 10 letters of opposition filed against Mariano, seven were from “minions of the haciendero-plantation clans of Lorenzos and Cojuangco-Aquinos” and one LFC officer.
Martin Lorenzo now owns 51 percent of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) and two subsidiaries namely Luisita Land Corp. (LLC) and Agrikulto Inc. Forty nine percent of said companies are still owned by the Cojuangcos-Aquinos.
UMA said further it would also not be surprising that the new DAR Secretary would reverse the decisions made by Mariano in Hacienda Luisita. This includes the junking of Tarlac Development Corp. (Tadeco) appeal to exempt 358 hectares in two barangays in Hacienda Luisita from land reform /2016/08/26/luisita-farmers-laud-dar-ruling-distribute-tadeco-lands/ and the revocation of the land use conversion on 384 hectares of land claimed by LLC, RCBC and Luisita Industrial Park Corp. (LIPCO).
The group added that all landlords and local and multinational plantation corporations that have various Agribusiness Ventures Agreements (AVAs) with agrarian reform beneficiaries would benefit from Mariano’s rejection.
Pro-farmers through and through
The KMP said “Ka Paeng Mariano has staunchly stood by his position against the conversion of agricultural lands, the very policy that the elite-dominated Congress of landlords and capitalists wants to pursue and perpetuate.”
Under Mariano’s leadership at DAR, more than 31, 000 farmers received their certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs); 118 irrigation systems and 154 farm-to-market roads in 54 provinces nationwide were setup; nearly 28,000 agrarian law implementation cases have been resolved. Besides Hacienda Luisita and Marbai farmers, farmers in eight out of 11 haciendas in Iloilo were installed.
Zen Soriano, chairperson of the National Federation of Peasant Women (Amihan), said, “Ka Paeng’s rejection will only intensify the struggle for genuine agrarian reform and rural development especially that the peasantry and the Filipino people have nothing to depend on but their collective action.”
Mariano, former chairperson of KMP, was the first farmer in Philippine history to become the agrarian reform secretary. He was nominated to the post by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).