Mariano, DAR Offer 13 Action Points For Mendiola Martyrs

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news national 1 pix 1 jan. 20 2017MANILA, Jan. 20 – The year was 1987 when thousands of farmers trooped to Mendiola to demand agrarian reform from the government. Today, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) joined the ranks of the farmers back to where the blood of 13 was spilled, demanding justice and genuine land reform in the country.

Two days before the anniversary of the Mendiola massacre, agrarian reform chief Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, along with DAR officials and employees, offered 13 of the department’s action points to the farmers killed by state forces last January 22, 1987.
Mariano, who is a Mendiola massacre survivor, pledged to call for justice for the victims by continuing to uphold the struggle for genuine agrarian reform and defending the rights of farmers.

“The foundation of the farmers and agrarian workers has always been built on their organized strength, incorruptible unity and unflinching determination to fight for their right to their lands,” Mariano declared.

Among the 13 action points are six administrative orders and issuance that are set to be signed by the DAR secretary on January 23. These include an extension of the special rules on applications for land use conversion of areas necessary for the resettlement areas of Typhoon Yolanda’s victims in 2013, and an amendment to the land acquisition and distribution form that no longer makes signing of the application to purchase and farmers’ undertaking (APFU) compulsory prior to land acquisition.

Mariano also announced two landmark projects of DAR for 2017. The “National Land Inventory and Profiling of ARBs” is set to map all agrarian reform-covered lands and beneficiaries while the “Agrarian Justice on Wheels” is set to provide immediate assistance to farmers suffering from land tenure problems.

In his speech in front of the hundreds of farmers present in Mendiola, the DAR secretary mentioned that the past administration left behind more than 10,000 cases of cancellation of certificates of land ownership and awards prompting his administration to address land problems at the ground level.

“We will strengthen the Barangay Agrarian Reform Committees (BARC) because they are able to provide frontline services such as the mediation and conciliation proceedings in agrarian disputes,” Mariano added.

Three task forces will also be formed to improve the department’s services to its stakeholders – the National Land Acquisition and Distribution Team, the National Task Force for Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Installation, and the National Task Force Against Illegal and Premature Conversion of Agricultural Lands.

At present, 4.8 million hectares of land have been awarded to around 2.7 million farmer-beneficiaries. Data from DAR show that the agency still has to distribute 621,085 hectares of land as part of the remaining land acquisition and distribution balance. Mariano aims to distribute a total of 400,000 hectares to 379,236 ARBs by 2019.

In addition, the DAR secretary also proposed January 22 to be the “National Farmers’ Recognition Day” celebrated by the DAR community nationwide annually.

“As your DAR chief, we will continue to implement the agrarian reform laws in our country. However, we will continue to uphold our fight for genuine agrarian reform to make sure that lands will be given to our farmers free of charge,” he stated.

Mariano will deliver the first State of the Agrarian Reform Address in July as part of his pledge to call for justice for the 13 victims of the Mendiola massacre.