The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights expresses dismay over the Commission on Appointments’ (CA) rejection of Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano as secretary of agrarian reform after heading the department for over a year. The decision was not really surprising. What was startling was the CA’s swift action sealing the administration’s departure from its so-called propoor contract. The Duterte administration has turned its back on the farmers.
In more than one year of service, Mariano brought hope to millions of farmers clamoring for genuine agrarian reform. He had, to a certain extent, created a mark in farmers’ lives. He expedited what the farmers already won in the law, distributing 145 hectares of land in Tagum City occupied by agribusiness firm Lapanday Food Corp. to the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, and 370 hectares of land in Hacienda Luisita. More than 31 farmers received certificates of land ownership award while 28,000 agrarian law issues have been resolved.
He endorsed the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (House Bill No. 555) that will effect free land distribution. Even while in the Cabinet, he remained faithful to the farmers and supported their fight for their right to own the land they till. Mariano, the head of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, was born and lived the life of farmers.
The CA’s rejection of Mariano opens the door again for landlords, oligarchs and local and multinational corporations to take farmers’ land without hindrance. Indeed, this is a disservice to farmers that had long suffered especially from landlord and corporate greed. Landlords like Cojuangco-Aquino, Lorenzo and their minions are accountable for the many violations of agricultural workers’ rights including extrajudicial killings. With Mariano gone, violations will
persist and likely to escalate.
Center for Trade Union and Human Rights