By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
MANILA — Indigenous peoples (IP) and farmers of Northern Luzon are disappointed with rejection of the appointment of Department of Agriculture Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano.
The Committee on Appointment (CA) rejected today, September 6, the appointment of Mariano while progressive groups including IPs and Moros were at the gates of the Senate rallying for his conirmation.
Windel Bolinget, chair of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and a convenor of Sandugo, the alliance of National Minorities (NM), or IPs and Moros said that the CA’s rejection of Mariano’s appointment only shows that the present Duterte administration is against farmers and IPs.
“Ka Paeng’s rejection only shows that the fascist US-Duterte regime serves the interest of land lords and big businesses and does not care less about poor farmers and indigenous peoples,” Bolinget said.
Bolinget said that to IPs and farmers land is life. He added that most IPs are farmers themselves. He pointed out that DAR is an important agency or farmers and with somebody like Mariano at the helm makes a huge difference for IPs and farmers.
Bolinget said that unlike the congressmen and senators who are mostly landlords and capitalists themselves, Mariano has spent most of his life fighting for genuine land reform and standing for the rights and welfare of farmers. “He (Mariano) is therefore most deserving to become DAR secretary because his track record proves that he has the interest of farmers and IPs at heart,” Bolinget said.
Zaldy Alfiler of the Solidarity of Peasants against Exploitation (Stop Exploitatio), the Ilocos chapter of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said farmers in Ilocos are also disappointed with the CA decision.
Alfiler said that in his one year stint, Mariano has done more than all those who came before him. He said that Mariano is the only DAR secretary who stood against big landlords and capitalists like what he did against owners of Lapanday and Hacienda Luisita.
In Ilocos, Alfiler said that Mariano has uncovered titles that has been issued some three decades ago but were not distributed and other similar anomalies in DAR. He said that the distribution of these titles covering some 30 hectares in Barangay Lipit, Cabugao, Ilocos Sur was scheduled this September.
Isabelo Adviento of Danggayan dagiti Mannalon ti Cagayan Valley (Danggayan CV) said they already expected that Mariano will not stay long in DAR especially with the composition of the CA. He said that from the beginning, Mariano received very little support from the Duterte administration in implementing a genuine land distribution program.
“Who are the members of the Commission on Appointments anyway, are they not big landlords and capitalists themselves?” Adviento said.
Adviento pointed out that DAR for the longest time has been an instrument of big landlords and capitalists to maintain and even expand their haceindas. He said that it was only during Mariano’s term in office that these anomalies and corrupt practices were exposed and addressed.
Mariano is the second progressive Duterte appointed as cabinet official to be rejected by the CA. On August 16, the same body rejected Judy Taguiwalo as Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). # nordis.net