By Zea Capistrano and Antonio L. Colina IV
Davao City — A day before the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) deliberates on his appointment, farmers in Davao region showed their support for Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano at a rally along Roxas Avenue here yesterday, coinciding with a nationwide rally for Mariano.
Jerry Alborme, acting secretary-general of the militant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said Mariano’s appointment is the first time that someone who truly represents the farmers’ voice gets to be named in the government.
“We express our overwhelming support for Ka Paeng’s confirmation as he deserves the post and has a heart for his fellow farmers,” Alborme said.
Mariano, who was a congressman under Anakpawis Partylist, was among the leftist members of the Cabinet appointed by President Duterte when he won in the elections last year. Former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo was recently rejected by the CA.
The farmers’ group is wary that Mariano might suffer the same fate as Taguiwalo’s and former environment Secretary Gina Lopez who was a staunch critic of mining companies.
“With the CA surrounded by oligarchs, the big landlords, and corrupt officials, Ka Paeng could suffer the same fate,” Alborme added.
Alborme described Mariano’s first year in service as “effective and dauntless,” citing the official’s push for land distribution, including the installation of agrarian reform beneficiaries in University of Southern Mindanao (USM) reservation area in North Cotabato Province, the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc. (MARBAI) in Tagum City, Davao del Norte; and Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac City.
Mariano’s appointment, however, is facing ten oppositions, including resolutions issued by three barangays in Tarlac.
Last beam of hope
Farmers of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (MARBAI) in Barangay Madaum, Tagum City called on members of the powerful CA to confirm left-leaning Agrarian Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano today.
In a phone interview Tuesday, MARBAI vice chairman Salvador Barcebal Jr. said the MARBAI farmers hope the CA would confirm Mariano who was instrumental in helping them reclaim the 145-hectare banana plantation from the management of Lorenzo-owned Lapanday Foods Corporation (LFC) on May 18, 2017 after two failed attempts.
Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao said in a statement that Mariano’s confirmation is “crucial to President Rodrigo Duterte’s promise of inclusive governance and for fundamental reforms.”
“As Ka Paeng is the last beam of hope of poor sectors in the Duterte cabinet, we urge the president and members of the CA to uphold inclusive governance for the benefit of the people, otherwise, this administration would only reap the unrest, primarily from the peasant sector which is already at present occupying hacienda lands across the country,” Casilao said.
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