Farmers take over DAR chief’s office



DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes.

MANILA, Philippines—Militant farmers on Friday barged into the office of Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes in Quezon City to demand his resignation over his department’s slow-paced implementation of land distribution.

Delos Reyes was not around to meet them.

About 50 members of the farmers group Task Force Mapalad (TFM) entered the compound of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) at noon, proceeded to the fourth floor where Delos Reyes held office and barricaded his door with a chain and padlock.

The protesters also taped on the wall a large poster that read, “The DAR is declared off-limits to Gil delos Reyes et al by orders of the bosses of [President Aquino],” an allusion to the President’s famous “Kayo ang boss ko (You are my boss)” address to Filipinos.

‘They could not stop us’

“They could not stop us,” TFM national deputy coordinator Lanie Factor said after the security guards allowed them to enter the building and occupy the lobby just outside Delos Reyes’ office.

A police team was later deployed to the compound to secure the area.

Contacted by phone, Delos Reyes, who was in Makati City for a meeting, said he was monitoring the situation and had asked his subordinates to “negotiate” with the farmers, most of whom came from Negros Occidental, and some from Batangas, Bukidnon and Davao Oriental.

Factor said the farmers were not there to seek a dialogue with Delos Reyes, but to send a strong message to Mr. Aquino to fire the official. She said their stay in the office should “prevent Delos Reyes from returning to his office.”

The group assailed what they called the Cabinet member’s failure to address the farmers’ demands to expedite the process of land distribution.

25-percent progress

They said Delos Reyes distributed only 42,234 hectares of land from January to August, constituting only 25 percent of the 180,000 hectare target for 2012.

But Delos Reyes said the criticism was unfair, noting that more landholdings have been distributed since August. He estimated distribution to reach between 140,000 and 160,000 hectares by the end of the year.

The official admitted that the DAR was taking more time than previous administrations in processing land transfers for the farmer beneficiaries under the agrarian reform law.

Requires time

“It’s true that we are slow. But we are working right now to improve the system, and that requires time. We can’t reform the old system by being haphazard about it,” Delos Reyes said.

He pointed out that previous governments were speedier because they were mostly distributing government-owned properties, whereas the incumbent DAR leadership was grappling with private landholdings.

Delos Reyes said the DAR was also struggling with a number of problems that contributed to the delays, including the digitization of land records at the Land Registration Authority and lost or missing titles, among other issues.

“I understand where the farmers are coming from, but we’re doing our best. We just need time,” he said. He admitted he was experiencing problems in “communicating to the general public how much we have been trying to correct deficiencies in the old system.”


Leadership crisis

But Factor said her group had had enough with Delos Reyes, and there was nothing he could do to convince them that he could be effective at his job.

She said there was a crisis of leadership at the DAR under Delos Reyes, and that he did not appear to enjoy the confidence of the DAR employees.

A separate protest rally was staged on Friday by members of the DAR Employees Association, which, like TFM, was seeking Delos Reyes’ resignation over reasons, including purported plans to shrink the DAR workforce, something which the official had denied.

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  • Darwin

    Syempre. Orders from above. Protect Hacienda Luisita. Delay.

    • Winzum Daoas

      That would be true only it is not Hacienda Luisita that those farmers came from. And as far as Hacienda Luisita is concerned, distribution is in progress since the president allowed it and the SC ordered it.

      • Darwin

        In progress. Meaning not done. Still not distributed. Spare me the bureaucratese.

      • Nilo C

        Hindi kamatis ang lupain Darwin na basta nalang ma-ibigay. Maraming mga papeles at proseso ang kailangan dyan. Yong lupa mo sa Paso ay madaling ibigay dahil i-abot lang sayo.

      • Darwin

        Oo nga. But since 1967?

      • EdgarEdgar

        It could have been expedited had the dummies not been included in the list of legitimate beneficiaries of Luisita land redistribution. Now DAR has to reverify the list all over again. The 5 dummies, as it turns out by sheer coincidence, are the horse caretakers and horsewhisperers of Tito Peping. So much for merry Christmas.

  • mon key

    TFM is at it again. Scoring media points, but not actually making things work. Why harass an already overburdened government agency that is not getting the cooperation it needs from land owners themselves. Focus should be on the large scale technical theft of DAR funds perpetrated by personnel in regional and provincial offices.

    • EdgarEdgar

      I agree that more media attention is needed on the technical theft of DAR funds, but also on DAR’s complicity with big landowners as documented by PCIJ,org. TFM is desperate alright. They are outpowered by the powers that be, and rendered even more helpless by Virgilio delos Reyes whose cozy relationship with hacienderos is not exactly a secret to the farmers.

  • Klepto

    Good start by the farmers but it would have been a lot better if they brought with them AK47s and machetes. These tools are a lot more efficient than just talks.

    • EdgarEdgar

      That might just be the direction the desperate farmers are headed for. 

  • neilabarca

    Sa konteksto ng gubyerno, politika at sistema-kalakaran sa Pilipinas, kahit pa isang kumander ng NPA ang ipalit sa pwesto bilang Secretary ng DAR  hindi rin magtatagumpay ang programang AGRARIAN REFORM.. lalo pa kaya kung ang pinuno ng Task Froce Mapalad (TFM) ang magpatakbo ng DAR, hindi rin magtatagumpay…..

    KAPITALISMO at pagNENEGOSYO (corporate farming ang kalakaran ngayon)  na ang umiiral na sistema sa buong kapuluan.   Sa kasalukuyang kaayusan,  kahit na ipamahagi ang LUPA sa mga maliliit na magsasaka,  walang dudang hindi rin ito maisusustina at magtatagumpay.   Bakit? Walang KAPITAL  at  walang malaking agricultural SUBSIDY na maibibigay ng gubyerno sa mga magsasakang palaging nakaasa sa ayuda’t tulong ng gubyerno (dependency). Hindi tulad sa mga magsasakang HAPON at mga magsasaka sa mauunlad na bansa sa EUROPA (Scandinavian countries), highly subsidized ang mga pagsasaka at alagang-alaga. Mayaman ang gubyermo nila.

    Baka mas maganda at mas mura pa ang bumili na lang ng bigas sa Vietnam kaysa sa mahirapan ang mga magsasaka natin na “matatanda at uugud-ugud na,”  hindi kakayanin ang  malaking gastusin sa pagsasaka o  sistema ng pagsasaka dito sa Pilipinas…

    Ganito ang ginagawa ng SINGAPORE…IMPORTED ANG LAHAT NG PAGKAIN…pero,  tignan mo,  napakayaman ang ekonomiya ng SINGAPORE,  industrialisado, daming pabrika at sentro ng kalakalan at SALAPI sa ASIA.

    • EdgarEdgar

      Don’t worry. That seems to be the direction we’re headed for. By 2013, contrary to what Noynoy has promised, we will be nowhere closer to rice self-sufficiency.

      Singapore? The likes of Lee Kuan Yew will never stand a chance in our populist democracy. Noynoy himself won because of his mama’s passing.

  • Jose Rizal

    Kumusta na kaya ang pamamahagi sa Hacienda Luisita?
    Pag AYAW, maraming dahilan…pag GUSTO, maraming paraan.
    1)  Gusto ni Noynoy na matalsik si Corona: PRESTO, yari kaagad.
    2)  Gusto ni Noynoy na makasuhan at hiyain si Gloria:  PRESTO, kahit sa high school event, at malabnaw na evidencia, yari kaagad;
    3)  Gusto ni Noynoy na ma-install ang isa pang sinto-sinto na SC CJ: PRESTO, maluha-luhang sinabi ni Sereno na diyos niya ang may gawa nito.
    4)  Di nagustuhan ang amoy ng dating PAG-ASA chief:  PRESTO, sisanti kaagad…mabilis pa sa alas 4
    5)  Gustong manghiya sa Bureau of Immigration:  PRESTO, talsik laaway kaagad sa entablado…

    Marami-rami pa…kaya lang obvious na obvious na talaga na….”KKKayo ang boss KKKo”
    Hahahahahahaha!  Maliwanag pa sa yellow’ng sinag ng bombunan ni kalbo!

    • Chi2 Garupa

      Ang pamamahagi ng
      Hacienda Luisita ay mas kupad pa kay sa Noynoying na pagong!

  • EdgarEdgar

    Virgilio delos Reyes loves the hacienderos more than the tillers of the land. And newspapers like PDI owned by the Prietos are of course quick to label farmers as militant even if none of them were wielding clubs, knives or brandishing AK47s. Funny how helpless, unarmed and defenseless farmers turn into menacing mobs when maliciously portrayed by the employees of the Prietos. Of course, the Prietos also have something to lose if all hacienderos were to lose their haciendas. So much for conflict of interest.

    • Jose Rizal

      One of the things I like about INQ is that, they’re not CENSORING the comment, unlike GMANetwork online, ABS-CBN, PhiStar etc.
      I’m not privy on the relationship of the Noynoy and the Prietos and if their journalists are bound to ‘respect’ that relationship.
      Maybe the Prieto’s are just diplomatic to Noynoy, being the president, and that wouldn’t necessarily mean the paper is bounded by that relationship, if you know what I mean.

      • EdgarEdgar

        I agree GMA7 has too much censoring going on, and it’s even worse in ABS-CBN and PhilStar. The Prietos at the end of the day, just like their partner Manny Pangilinan, are business people who have business interests to serve. Of particular note is how PDI reported rather lightly and belatedly on Sereno’s recent RCAO boo-boo in the SC after all the other dailies and TV network came out with greater details. It’s understandable since the Prietos and Pangilinan have cases pending in the Supreme Court. At the end of the day, the Prietos will be for the Prietos and PDI for PDI.

      • Jose Rizal

        When BS Aquino stated that unlike in the Martial Law or Marcos era, in his administration there’s no CENSORSHIP…but to those who understood his style of vindictive politics, every print/broadcast media is “tiptoeing” their way to deliver the news, if they have pending cases that Noynoy can use against them or they have that BIR related issue and the likes.  Never mind ABS-CBN and the Lopezes, they’re too obvious.  What I mean is that, there’s still an INDIRECT CENSORSHIP under this vindictive-style politics. We’ve seen how that psychologically questionable man reacts to issues and uses the government departments, agencies, commissions and what-have-you’s, to discourage publicity against him or his administration.
        Just look what happened to Noli de Castro and the rest of them…

      • EdgarEdgar

        Absolutely. By resorting to intimidation and instilling fear in the media, he´s had them on self-censorship mode. So much worse than a totalitarian state.

  • disqusted0fu

    Sec. De Los Reyes is put on a tough spot. he’s probably just following directives from higher ups. plus, slow – paced seems to be the theme of this Aquino administration anyway. hence noynoying. so this is not surprising at all.

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