MANILA, Philippines–Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio Delos Reyes on Wednesday said he stands by his record in the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and explained the many challenges attendant to taking away private lands to give these to farmers.
Delos Reyes issued the statements in reaction to Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello’s call to the President to fire him and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad for their supposedly disappointing performances in the cabinet.
Bello had criticized the implementation of the extended Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), alleging that Delos Reyes was “resolute and timid” in the face of “landlord resistance” because some 550,000 hectares of land had not been distributed after the June 30, 2014, deadline.
But President Aquino rejected Bello’s call and is keeping Abad and Delos Reyes.
Delos Reyes on Wednesday said he had yet to talk to the President about Bello’s call, but he defended his work at the DAR.
“I stand by our record,” he said.
According to him, the DAR is implementing the CARP under the rule of law.
The DAR is dealing with the distribution of private agricultural lands, and landowners not only resist, but exhaust a lot of legal and due process remedies available to them to oppose it, he said.
He has to follow the proper process, and has to ensure that any decision made has legal ground to stand on and would not be overturned, he explained.
“I think some people in the CARP advocacy have been so used to a DAR which decides cases primarily to please whoever speaks the loudest,” he said.
“I try my best that every decision I made follows due process, and number 2, it will not be reversed,” he added.
He said there was no point to issuing a quick ruling in violation of due process, especially if this decision would later be overturned by the Supreme Court.
“This is what we’ve found in the past where decisions were made because of him who speaks the loudest. That’s not going to be the case here,” he said.
Delos Reyes said the DAR was trying its best to decide the cases as fast as it can and to fix the systems.
He also said a lot of criticisms against him and the DAR were “said in a vacuum.”
According to him, in handling private lands, the DAR also has to deal with the dismal record keeping in previous years. It was only recently that the systems have been upgraded, he noted.
“It’s no secret to anyone who has a modicum of knowledge of the land records that until recently, it was very hard to get a certified true copy from the register of deeds,” he said.