Mariano confirmation as DAR chief stalled again
The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday deferred action on the confirmation of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano to give its members time to “process and digest” issues raised by certain landowners against his appointment.
Mariano, the former head of the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), finally faced the commission after several postponements only to be confronted with questions from one of the 10 parties that sought his rejection by the CA.
Of the 10 public oppositors, six showed up at the hearing, but only one — Nueva Ecija cattle rancher Manuel Gallego Jr. — managed to present his case.
Represented by her daughter Maria Teresa, Gallego accused Mariano of inciting and of supporting the “illegal, armed, forced entry of more than 250 men with bolos, machetes and samurai swords” into their cattle ranch in October last year.
She said the leaders of the group were affiliated to the KMP.
“Secretary Mariano clearly demonstrated that he has a track record of violating the rule of law and providing legal cover to land-grabbers,” said Gallego.
She said the chief of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) “lacked objectivity” and showed “unwarranted prejudice against landowners.”
These made Mariano a “major obstacle” to President Duterte’s vision of inclusive economic growth, particularly in the countryside, she added.
Mariano denied participation in the incident and said he had ordered DAR officials to investigate the incident.
“The incident mentioned was neither ordered nor instigated by the DAR,” he told the commission.
When asked what he thought of some groups taking advantage of his position to use violence and invade property, Mariano assured the CA that both farmers and landowners would receive fair treatment under his administration.
“But there are pertinent provisions in the agrarian reform laws that champion and protect the rights and welfare of the farmers,” he said. “Our laws are founded on the right of farmers who are landless to own the lands they till.”
On the motion of Sen. Gringo Honasan, Sen. Vicente Sotto III, chair of the CA committee on agrarian reform, suspended the hearing until Sept. 5.
Apart from the Gallegos, the CA identified the other oppositors as Noel Mallari and others; Ricardo Quintos; Rodel Mesa and Angelito Bais; Roberto Nidera and others; Edgar Aguas; Manolito Dagatan and Hernani Geronimo; Barangays Sta. Catalina and Asturias in Tarlac City, through separate resolutions; and Barangay Motrico in La Paz, Tarlac.
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