Politics, politicians steal show in DAR ceremony
MULANAY, Quezon — Politics, and politicians, reared their ugly heads at ceremonies for the distribution of land titles to beneficiaries of agrarian reform in the province’s Bondoc Peninsula, ruining what could have been a joyous moment for landless farmers and employees of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
Several tents that could accommodate at least two cars each had been prominently displayed around the venue of the ceremony with the oversized name of resigned Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.
Aguirre is president of the ruling party Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in the province.
Aguirre vs Suarez
It was not clear whether Aguirre was positioning himself as a candidate for a local or national position but his son would be fielded by PDP-Laban against incumbent Gov. David Suarez, son of a presidential defender Rep. Danilo Suarez, in the congressional race in the Bondoc Peninsula district. Suarez is serving his last term as governor.
The elder Suarez will run for governor against another PDP-Laban candidate, Rep. Mark Enverga.
Many in the audience waiting for the arrival of President Duterte wore shirts with PDP-Laban emblazoned on them.
Local DAR employees, in their uniforms, were wandering outside the venue.
“We were left out as if the event was purely theirs and not DAR,” a dismayed worker, who requested anonymity, told the Inquirer.
Tarpaulin streamers welcoming President Rodrigo Duterte and hung by the local government along the town’s main roads were removed on orders of the Presidential Security Group (PSG), according to the police.
The President is known to dislike being kowtowed to.
Mulanay Mayor Joselito Ojeda, one of a few officials who stuck with the Liberal Party and chairs the party in Bondoc Peninsula, complained that he was excluded in preparations for the event.
“Protocol dictates that the local government should be involved,” Ojeda said.
“But I was cast aside because of politics,” he told the Inquirer.
Aguirre and Ojeda were first cousins but treated each other as political foes.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, PDP-Laban secretary general, and House Majority leader Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas were also at the event in Mulanay.
In his speech, Alvarez lambasted local and provincial officials for failing to improve the lot of Quezon farmers and asked voters in the province to replace these officials with PDP-Laban candidates.
Several of the beneficiaries left their seats and walked out but were prevented by PSG members from leaving the venue.
“I did not come here as a PDP-Laban member,” said one farmer.
“I only came here to receive my certificate and thank President Duterte,” the farmer said.
“Their highly partisan speech should just wait for the campaign season,” another said.
Ojeda, who is serving his last term as mayor, would field his son, JT, against Aquirre’s niece, Tinan, in the mayoral elections.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.