MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Malacañang is saddened by lawmakers’ rejection of Rafael Mariano as agrarian reform secretary on Wednesday, September 6.
“We regret the news of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael ‘Paeng’ Mariano’s rejection by the Commission on Appointments (CA),” said Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella in a statement.
Mariano is the 4th Cabinet member of the Duterte administration to be rejected by the CA. This makes President Rodrigo Duterte the chief executive with the highest number of appointees to be rejected by Congress.
Abella described Mariano as critical in fulfilling Duterte’s promises to farmers. (READ: Farmers’ groups condemn CA rejection of Mariano)
“Improving the quality of life of our farmers is the commitment of the Duterte administration, and Secretary Mariano has been pivotal in promoting farmers’ rights and welfare and ensuring their security of land tenure,” said Abella.
Duterte’s spokesman thanked Mariano for “his dedicated and passionate service to the nation.”
National Anti-Poverty Commission Lead Convenor Liza Maza also expressed disappointment over Mariano’s rejection.
“The space for reform has been narrowed to accommodate the few and powerful,” she said in a statement. (READ: Mariano after CA rejection: Interest of landlords, oligarchs prevailed)
Thirteen lawmakers voted to reject Mariano’s ad interim appointment. He had been accused of favoring certain farmers’ groups and supporting their illegal acts, allegations which Mariano denied.
Mariano, a former leftist farmers’ group leader, was nominated by the Left after Duterte opened up some Cabinet positions to them.
Before Mariano’s rejection, the CA rejected the appointments of former social welfare secretary Judy Taguiwalo, also a leftist; former environment secretary Gina Lopez, and former foreign secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. – Rappler.com