Mariano Says: “First 100 Days is the beginning of genuine land reform for farmer-tenants”

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news national 2 pix 1 oct. 7 2016Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano said his office was “rectifying the policy mistakes of the old DAR to begin the process of implementing genuine agrarian reform in the first 100 days of the Duterte administration.”

Genuine Agrarian Reform under the new DAR, Mariano said, started with opening the gates of the DAR Central Office which had been literally closed for more than 18 years from dispossessed farmer-tenants who trooped to DAR believing that the office will look after their needs.

“These farmer-tenants have been deprived of lands that should have been distributed to them by virtue of land reform,” Mariano explained, “because of landlord-oligarchs who use their power, influence, and connections in government to thwart land reform.”


The new DAR rallied the support of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to finally convene last September 12—after ten years—the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC).

The PARC is the highest policy- and decision-making body for agrarian reform matters and disputes, where the President presides as chair and the agrarian reform secretary as vice chair.
It was never convened during the whole six-year term of President Benigno Aquino III, whose relatives own the vast Hacienda Luisita sugar plantation.

During the PARC meeting, Duterte approved Mariano’s proposal for a two-year moratorium on the conversion of agricultural lands.

The President also approved the DAR secretary’s proposal for the condonation of penalties on the arrears of farmer-beneficiaries who had fallen behind on their amortization payments to the state-run Land Bank of the Philippines for the land awarded to them under the agrarian reform program.

Mariano said the implementation of the twin proposals would “help alleviate the condition of tens of thousands of farmers now facing threats of eviction” because of conversion projects and Land Bank foreclosure orders.”

Land Bank of the Philippines records showed that farmer beneficiaries unpaid interest on the land stood at P4.3 billion.

“Farmers are charged with six percent interest on land amortization and non payment for three consecutive years means foreclosure of their awarded lands,” Mariano said.

Mariano added that land conversion has for so long become a convenient ploy of unscrupulous landowners who wish to be exempt from agrarian reform coverage and thus, deny farmers to own lands.

Over the past decade, there has been a rampant conversion of prime agricultural lands for industrial, residential, and commercial purposes, in flagrant violation of the agrarian reform law, Mariano said.

An Executive Order is now pending in Malacanang to effect the implementation on the moratorium on land conversion.


To ensure that farmer-tenants’ rights are protected, Mariano suspended the disqualification of farmworker-beneficiaries under the “tambiolo system” of Hacienda Luisita, pending a complete review and investigation of land reform implementation in the Cojuanco-Aquino sugar plantation.

Mariano made the suspension announcement during an October 1 visit to Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac province to meet with the hacienda’s farm workers and agrarian reform beneficiaries.

“We begin genuine agrarian reform at the belly of the beast—in Hacienda Luisita, where farmer-tenants have struggled to take the land due to them for more than a quarter of a century, ever since agrarian reform was introduced in the country,” Mariano said.

The former leader of the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and three-term legislator of Anakpawis Partylist had consistently supported Hacienda Luisita farm workers, especially during the historic People’s Strike 12 years ago.

In 2004, the Hacienda Luisita management retrenched 327 farm workers of the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), including its union officers. The move incited ULWU to launch a strike and to block Gate 1 of the sugar mill. Seven people were killed and 121 injured—32 from gunshot wounds—as a result of management’s violent dispersal of the striking ULWU workers.

To date, 111 farmworker beneficiaries (FWBs) had been reportedly disqualified by the previous DAR administration for refusing to sign the Application to Purchase and Farmers’ Undertaking (APFU) document.


Mariano also said that DAR is investigating the informal lease-back arrangement otherwise known as the ‘aryendo’ system in Hacienda Luisita which has been employed to hinder the distribution of land to farmer beneficiaries in the sugar estate.

The “aryendo” is a practice where local government officials and former managers and supervisors of Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) leased tracts of land from farmers at a rate of P10,000 per hectare each year, Mariano said.

He added that the illegal scheme has led to wide-ranging disenfranchisement of Luisita farm worker beneficiaries.”

Mariano warned that the DAR will definitely press charges against these financiers or
aryendadors who coerce, lure and swindle beneficiaries into this illicit “aryendo” scheme.

He asserted that the informal leasing arrangement is illegal and not authorized by DAR. “The aryendo system must stop. They must be charged for obstruction of land reform in Hacienda Luisita,” Mariano stressed.


In Negros Occidental, Mariano promised to looked into the complaints of some 1,800 farmer-beneficiaries in 11 haciendas owned by business tycoon Eduardo Danding Cojuangco located in the cities of La Carlota, Bago and Himamaylan, as well as in the towns of
Pontevedra, Hinigaran, La Castellana and Isabela.

DAR is reviewing a program in the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law that allows
landowners to skip the actual distribution of lands in exchange for a “corporative scheme” that gives away shares of stocks to farmers instead of land.

The scheme has been adopted on the 4,300-hectare farms owned by Cojuangco in Negros Occidental and are covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Mariano said he received reports that the property was no longer planting high-value
crops and was being managed by someone else. “If violations to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law are found, we will act on the matter,” he said.

He added DAR would ensure the interest of the farmer beneficiaries are upheld, in any agribusiness arrangement.


Mariano signed DARCO Resolution MS 1608-234, ordering the distribution of eight parcels of land in Barangays Cutcut and Balete, inside Hacienda Luisita.

Totalling 358.22-hectares, the land is currently owned and managed by Tarlac Development Corp. (TADECO).

Mariano also ordered the filing of criminal charges against officials of the Aurora Pacific Economic Zones (Apeco) for illegal conversion of some 2.5 hectares of agri-lands in Sitio Landing, Bgy. Esteves, Casiguran, Aurora.

The DAR secretary likewise denied for lack of merit the Application for Exclusion filed by the provincial government of Negros Occidental represented by Gov. Maranon involving two parcels of land located in Barangays Sta. Rosa and Canlandog in Murcia town.

Mariano personally went to Negros to look into the complaints and situation of farmers in Bacolod City who held a camp out at the governor's office.

The DAR secretary also ordered to hold in abeyance the implementation of Administrative Order No. 4 series 2016 to thresh out and resolve some onerous provisions in the agribusiness venture agreements (AVAs) that were found to be disadvantageous to the farmers and tribal folks.

AO No.4 regulates and governs the establishment of AVAs between a group or multiple
individual agrarian reform beneficiaries and an investor/investors.

In September, Mariano formed a fact-finding team to conduct an investigation on the killings of five farmers killed in Laur, Nueva Ecija, one in Isabela, and still another peasant leader killed in Coron, Palawan.

Baby Mercado, Violeta Mercado, Eligio Barbado and Gaudencio Bagalay were shot dead by unidentified men while resting at their farm.

Ariel Diaz, head of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Dagami chapter, was gunned down at his farm in Villa Pereda, Isabela.

Peasant leader Arnel Figueroa was shot dead by a government securit guard at the disputed Yulo King Ranch (YKR) in Coron, Palawan province.


During his first 100 days, Mariano distributed certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs) to 175 Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) in Mambuaro, Occidental Mindoro and 300 ARBs in Bukidnon and Lanao del Norte.

Through Administrative Order No. 8, series of 2016), Mariano issued guidelines governing the completion of distribution and titling of landed estates.

He also ordered the inventory of the lands distributed and farmers beneficiaries to determine if these benficiaries still own the lands awarded to them.

In his visit to Msgr. Oso in Jaro, Iloilo City, Mariano ordered DAR to install 6,000 farmer-beneficiaries by Dec. 16.

He added those who would not be installed by December would be installed within the first quarter of 2017. Msagr. Oso told the DAR secretary that there are about 24,000 CLOA holders in Iloilo who were not installed.

In Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental, Mariano formed Task Force ABC to determine and identify the true beneficiaries of a 316-hectare agri-land placed under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

The said task force was formed after the Office of the President remanded to the DAR a case involving two groups of farmer-beneficiaries, whose eligibility was placed under question.


Mariano was part of the crafting of President Duterte’s development agenda for the country. The summit, held in SMX Convention Center in Davao City, tackled anti-poverty programs and alleviation of poverty in the 20 poorest provinces in the Philippines.

He stressed that the new DAR is committed to a vision of a nation that upholds the rights of farmers to individually or collectively own, cultivate, enhance, and secure their agricultural lands, thereby fostering rural development and national industrialization for a just, safe, and equitable society.

Its mission is to lead, implement, and protect the comprehensive and genuine agrarian reform program that actualizes the equitable land distribution and ownership of land to farmer beneficiaries, Mariano said.

He added that in order to achieve this, DAR is committed to the principles of transparency, accountability, fairness, and justice.

Mariano deliberated at the Congress and Senate budget hearing the department’s proposed P10.1-billion budget for 2017, which is 2.4% lower than its current budget of P10.12 billion.

DAR’s 2017 budget includes the P100 million requirement of the Land Bank of the Philippines
(LBP) for the compensation of landowners whose lands were covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

By expense class, DAR’s 2017 proposed budget will be distributed as follows: personnel services (PS), P4.27 billion; maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), P4.21 billion; and capital outlay (CO), P1.66 billion

Mariano vowed to address the employment status of employees affected by the Rationalization plan, in line with the government's policy to streamline the bureaucracy.


Since the opening of the DAR gates to farmers and other stakeholders, DAR has organized continuing dialogues with farmers, farmer groups, civil society groups and NGOs.

The DAR recently launched “Kapihan kay Ka Paeng" to inform the public through the media about the agency’s policy directives, programs, and projects.

It has mounted the Paaralang Repormang Agraryo at Hustisya or PARAGOS, a nationwide advocacy campaign that aims to popularize genuine agrarian reform, in a bid to distribute
more lands for free or at least cost to farmer-tenants.

In response to PRRD's call to provide the necessary services, processes in the frontline services under the Citizen's Charter, were reviewed to address the needs of the transacting public.

Last August 3, the DAR secretary turned over the P40.7-million rubber processing facility in Banisilan, North Cotabato.

Implemented under the Mindanao Sustainable Agrarian & Agriculture Dev’t. (Minsaad), the project
involved the construction of an air dryer building that would address farmers’ concerns on hauling and delivery costs of their rubber cup lumps. It will produce quality rubber cup lumps that will fetch good market prices.