Protesters in prison shirts hound DAR chief


Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes: Playing cat and mouse

MANILA, Philippines—Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes on Monday played cat and mouse at Quezon Memorial Circle with protesters seeking his resignation for alleged incompetence.

De los Reyes had just conducted a press conference at Max’s restaurant, where he slammed “misinformed” bishops calling for his ouster, and was proceeding to another restaurant, Bacolod Chicken Inasal, nearby to brief “friends” from the National Anti-Poverty Council-Farmers and Landless Rural Workers Council (NAPC-FLRW) about the programs of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

Along the short route, some 30 farmers belonging to the Church-backed advocacy group Task Force Mapalad (TFM) showed up, wearing orange prison inmate shirts to show that they were not afraid of being jailed, carrying placards calling for the sacking of the DAR chief for his alleged failure to implement the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), which is expiring in 2014.

A stunned De los Reyes was shepherded by DAR staff inside Bacolod Chicken Inasal as park security guards held back the protesters who attempted to storm the restaurant. The DAR secretary slipped out through the back door and disappeared.

After around 30 minutes, obviously after being told that the protesters had left, De los Reyes returned to continue the briefing with the NAPC-FLRW. But soon, the protesters resurfaced and surrounded the restaurant.

De los Reyes decided to leave, this time through the front door, protected by a contingent from the Quezon City Police District from the howling protesters. De los Reyes headed to his sport utility vehicle, barely missing being hit by a placard, and drove off.

TFM national president

Alfredo Jaime explained that the farmers were clad in prison shirts to show that they were not afraid of landing in jail for their stunt. He said that the farmers only wanted to send their message that De los Reyes should be fired.

During the press briefing, De los Reyes explained that his department was on target with the implementation of the land-to-the-tiller program, contrary to claims by his critics that with nearly a million hectares of prime agricultural lands still to be distributed, the timetable could not be met.

“I think they (bishops) were misinformed. The data they have, I think, is inaccurate,” De los Reyes told reporters.

“The decision for me to resign and let go is the President’s decision. I will continue doing what I need to do while I am still here because that is my job,” he said.

De los Reyes pointed out that the bishops’ apprehension that the department only had until June 2014 to distribute land to beneficiaries was based on “a misreading of available data” and “a mistaken interpretation of what the law provides.”

De los Reyes cited Section 30 of the law—CARP with extension and reforms, or Carper—allowed the DAR to continue acquisition and distribution of landholdings with pending cases or proceedings even beyond 2014.

The agrarian reform secretary said that he has started to send letters to the bishops to explain the real status of the Carper implementation as well as the process of land acquisition and distribution as provided by the law.

President Aquino has said that he intends to complete the agrarian reform program which his mother, democracy icon Corazon Aquino, launched in 1988 as the centerpiece of a social justice promise to ease poverty and remove one of the major causes of the communist insurgency.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • jinx

    Don’t resign just because of this handful pests.  They’ve been protesting and camping in front of DAR building since time immemorial. Wala na lang maganda sa mga to kundi kumunista, kaya walang silbi pansinin mga yan.

  • Guest

    DAR Chief Virgilio delos Reyes is not incompetent. He’s just complicit with the landowning interests. He owes his position to the landowning interests. After DAR, when he returns to private sector, he will be working for the landowning interests. He can’t afford to antagonize them.

    Right after the incident in Quezon Memorial Circle, Virgilio immediately flew to Negros to pay homage to the landowning sugar barons whose feet he licks and whose toes he sucks. Mas matamis pa yata raw sa tubo, sabi ni Virgilio.

  • The Overlord

    Remember, when a Communist speaks, plug your ears!

    • Tigsik

      What, in the first place, is a communist?

      • The Overlord

        You can do a Google search for that.

      • Tigsik

        So, which of the millions of the Google search results are you using in this context?

      • The Overlord

        I chose the most apt and proper definition to define a Communist. I’m sure you have the brains to discern that, right? I’m not here to spoonfeed someone with information that is readily available online.

      • Tigsik

        Nowhere did you indicate the “most apt and proper definition to define a [c]ommunist” here. Where is it? What are you talking about? It’s empty rhetoric you’re posturing, really. You simply dodged the question by hiding behind Google’s blanket. You say we must plug our ears when a communist speaks. But for Jesus H. Christ’s sake you can’t even have the balls, nay the wit, to call a spade a spade, ergo, to pinpoint exactly what makes a communist a communist.

        No one is spoon-feeding anyone here. A valid question to your exhortation deserves a valid response.

        So, after your pointless escapist drivel, the question still stands: what is a communist?

      • The Overlord

        I don’t need to explain my views, especially when you wanted me to indicate the “most apt and proper definition to define a [c]ommunist” (sic).

        If you see it as an empty rhetoric, then that perspective is your own. Do I need to tell you how to use the internet when you want to learn what is a Communist? I’m am not accountable to you, or anyone else for that matter.

        Puhlease, stop your silly banter about trying to extract an explanation. You won’t get any. I stand by what I say. If people don’t get it, then that isn’t my problem anymore.

      • Tigsik

        You’re exhorting us to plug our ears when a Communist speaks, but you chastise people for asking a clarificatory question about your position, a question as basic as “what is a communist?” You’re operating on a vague premise.

        You’re all talk. It seems you’re criticizing what you don’t really understand. And then you have the gall to pass the buck by asking me to “stop with [the] silly banter”. Well, I’ve got some bad news for you — you’re the one who’s silly with the pointless drivel.

        And don’t flatter yourself. You will not be accountable whether or not you answer the question. You’re not the center of the universe.

        So, what is a communist?

  • nes911

    Church instigated? Or paid protesters?

  • Rovingmoron

     I don’t think the Church would pay for these protesters! They’d rather collect than give. Perhaps, the protesters came on their own volition due to madness over the news reports that the coco levy funds were going to be diverted for other purposes, rather than distribute them to the farmers nationwide.

  • Geeky Guide

    I wonder what the Church’s full involvement in this incident was. 

  • Faisal salman

    Nagsasabwatan na ang mga Bading na pari at ang mga Salot na npa…

  • poltergeist_fuhrer

    kapit tuko pa rin…

    sobrang hirap na ng mga magsasaka lalo na ang sa HACIEDA LUISITA…wala lang ginagawa sa opisina…

    parehas ng amo…NOYNOYING!!!

  • disqusted0fu

    Sec. De Los Reyes has one of the toughest jobs in this administration, he has to follow orders from his boss. Pnoy is continuing the task of Cory Aquino during her term to protect Hacienda Luisita from getting distributed to the farmers. That protection was seized during GMA’s term, and Pnoy is trying to get it back, using DAR Sec. De Los Reyes as his tool which makes his job one of the toughest. And this could also be one of the reasons why Pnoy has such a resentment towards GMA.

  • JasonBieber

    The poor, the farmers, fisherfolk, and basically the less fortunate Filipinos all have been disregarded by PNoy and his government. Uplifting the poor should be the priority of PNoy’s Presidency but instead farmers can’t even receive the land that was already determined to be theirs. Take for example, the Hacienda Luisita land that was already decided to be return to the farmers…no farmers have yet to receive anything. This could all be due to the fact that the Aquino’s own that land.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos