QUEZON CITY, April 21 -- President Rodrigo Duterte has reappointed Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano as Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary more than a week after he expressed confidence in the peasant leader’s bid to implement genuine agrarian reform in the country.
Malacañang announced the decision to renew the ad interim appointment of Mariano on April 17 amid the growing call for support from agrarian reform beneficiaries and farmworkers’ groups. The President, during the celebration of a harvest festival in Nueva Ecija last April 5, ensured Mariano of his continuing support as he fast-tracks his programs as agrarian reform chief.
Earlier this month, Mariano was a consultant of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) panel during the fourth round of peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in the Netherlands. Both panels have agreed to use free land distribution as the basic principle of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER).
The agrarian reform chief has also continually pushed for the enactment of a genuine agrarian reform law which he believes would rectify the inherent flaws of the existing agrarian reform programs that worsened land monopoly by few landlord-oligarchs.
“We welcome President Duterte’s renewed support in the current DAR administration,” Mariano said. “Our continuing commitment to push for pro-people policies on genuine agrarian reform remains strong with the government’s unwavering support for the poor,” he added.
President Duterte, who also chairs the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), has committed to improve the quality of life farmers and raise their productivity by including land tenure security as a key priority in the 10-point socioeconomic agenda of his administration.
Furthermore, the President has showed support for the proposed two-year moratorium on land use conversion during the PARC meeting last 12 September 2016.
Mariano, along with Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez and Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, was previously bypassed by the Commission on Appointments before Congress went on a session break last March 18. (DAR)