QUEZON CITY (May 2, 2017)— Friends and allies of three cabinet members Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael "Ka Paeng" Mariano, Department of Social Welfare Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy Taguiwalo and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DSWD) Secretary Gina Lopez gathered today in a press conference in Quezon City to express their support for their confirmation from the Commission on Appointments (CA).
The nomination of the three Cabinet members were recently bypassed by the CA. For the third time, they will be undergoing confirmation hearing from the CA committee this week.
Despite Congress not greenlighting their appointments, Duterte has repeatedly expressed confidence and trust in all three of them.
In a statement on the three Cabinet members’ recent reappointment, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said, "The President chose them as his alter egos because he believes in their capacity to serve and deliver sustainable basic social services to the Filipino people."
Abella said the Duterte administration will continue to pursue genuine socio-economic reforms to alleviate poverty and to promote lasting peace in the country.
"The President’s administration remains fully committed to the task of uniting our people and working with all sectors to achieve peace and inclusive development during its term," Abella said.
A true farmer-leader
As a farmer who experienced firsthand state neglect and inadequate government support, Ka Paeng expects nothing less than the ideal, merging practical solutions with programs that prioritize the welfare of farmers.
His contributions to the peasant movement as head of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) span years of tirelessly working on the streets as a mass leader. For almost 40 years, Ka Paeng has pushed for genuine land reform and national industrialization to address all forms of exploitation on the poor.
On his first day as DAR Secretary, he promised to rectify the policy mistakes of previous DAR administrations. He declared an “open-door policy” by removing the locks of the DAR Central Office gates which had been literally closed from dispossessed farmer-tenants for more than 18 years. Almost 9,000 farmers have been reached by DAR for consultations and dialogues in his first six months alone.
The DAR Chief was able to rally the support of President Duterte who finally convened the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC)—the highest policy and decision-making body for agrarian reform. The PARC has already met thrice in the past 10 months and has cancelled two stock distribution options (SDO) contracts in Negros and Davao.
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, on Saturday said the presence of reformist personalities in the Duterte’s administration is a benefit for the government’s peace talks with communists.
“The inclusion in the Cabinet of Mariano, Taguiwalo and Lopez works well for the entire peace process because they are in a position to help push much-needed socio-economic reforms,” the NDF said.
Mariano sat down as a consultant of the Government of the Republic if the Philippines (GRP) during the fourth round of peace negotiations with the NDFP. With the promise to bring genuine agrarian reform close to realization, both panels agreed to use free land distribution to landless farmers as the guiding principle of agrarian in the country.
Mariano affirmed in the crafting of the Socio-Economic Reforms (Caser) the provisions including free land distribution to farmers and the dismantling of land monopoly that involve thousands of hectares of agricultural lands.
The NDFP and the GRP are currently working on finalizing the Caser, one of the agreements that will lead the way for a final peace pact.
The NDF said Mariano, who was a known peasant leader before becoming a public official, “will play an important role in implementing a program of free land distribution for poor farmers and farm-workers.”
“Ka Judy will likewise play an important role in implementing expanded social services for the people,” it said. “Gina Lopez meanwhile has expressed willingness to work with the revolutionary forces in protecting the environment against destructive mining operations.”
Lopez is not a member of any progressive organization but she has earlier ordered the suspension of mine contracts.
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