DAVAO CITY, Aug. 14 - Agrarian Secretary Rafael Mariano assured the officers and members of the Farmers Development Cooperative (FARDECO) here that he will look into all of their concerns in a recent consultation and dialogue on agrarian matters.
The Secretary also promised the group that he will instruct the Department of Agrarian Reform regional office to give free legal advice and to take the necessary steps towards resolving their problems.
Mariano recently visited FARDECO at Carcatabawi agrarian reform community in Barangay Cadalian, Baguio District, Davao City and met with its officers and members for a short consultation and dialogue.
He said that when he opened the gates of the DAR central office in Quezon City, in effect, he is also opening all the gates of all the DAR offices in the country.
"If you have problems, the department and its employees will welcome you with open arms. Together, let us help you in resolving your concerns."
During the ARC visit and dialogue, Mariano was with DAR Undersecretary for Support Services Rosalina Bistoyong who told the farmers that the DAR officials will always be there to hear and understand their concerns.
She encouraged the farmers to be members of a farmers' organization, as she emphasized the importance of organizing themselves into agrarian reform beneficiary organizations (ARBOs) for faster flow of support services.
"The DAR would be able to reach out and extend assistance to all of you if you are organized into bona fide farmers' cooperatives. Through your cooperative, projects and programs of the Department like access to credit and livelihood programs will be available for you," Bistoyong said.
On his way to FARDECO, Mariano stopped by a cabled tramline that farmers here use to transport crops.
For a fee of P150 per kilo of cargo load, farmers are able to transport their crops from Sitio Balingoos, a mountainous area where 130 hectares of high-value crops like cacao, banana, abaca and vegetables are planted by about 200 farmers residing there, for distribution to the local market.
The 1.1-kilometer cabled tramline was a project of the Department of Agriculture.
Also present during the consultation and dialogue, were the farmer leaders affiliated with Task Force Mapalad - Alliance of Land Rights in Mindanao (TFM-ALARM), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) Southern Mindanao Chapter and Ugnayan ng mga Nagsasariling Lokal na Organisasyon sa kanayunan (UNORKA) Mindanao. (DAR/Pinky Roque)