Mariano urges Duterte not to appoint ex-military officer to DAR

Jee Y. Geronimo
Former agrarian reform secretary Rafael Mariano is concerned that a former military man would likely reverse 'important' orders he issued at the DAR

ONE MONTH AFTER. Former agrarian reform secretary Rafael Mariano speaks during a media forum held by farmer leaders to commemorate Peasant Month. Photo by Jee Geronimo/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Former agrarian reform secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano on Tuesday, October 10, urged President Rodrigo Duterte not to appoint a former military officer to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

Mariano, who was rejected as agrarian reform secretary by the powerful Commission on Appointments last month,  told Rappler after a media forum held by farm leaders that this was his “unsolicited advice” to the President.

Kung may susunod na kalihim ng DAR…huwag galing sa hanay ng militar, kasi ‘yung pangamba noong ating mga magsasaka na ipapatupad ang agrarian reform program sa balangkas ng counterinsurgency program, e hindi siya para lutasin ‘yung fundamental problem of landlessness at hindi advocate siya ng genuine agrarian reform,” Mariano said.

(The next DAR secretary should not be from the military because our farmers fear that the agrarian reform program will be implemented within the framework of the counterinsurgency program and not to solve the fundamental problem of landlessness, and not as an advocate of genuine agrarian reform.)

He added: “Anong mangyayari doon ‘pag may sigalot sa isang landholding? Kaagad papasok ang militar? Dapat DAR pa rin ang mag-exercise ng kanilang poder, magdischarge ng kanilang mandate, powers, and functions.”

(What will happen there if there’s a dispute in a landholding? Will the military just come in? It’s still the DAR that should exercise its jurisdiction, and discharge its mandate, powers, and functions.)

The co-chairperson of Makabayan said he understands farmers who worry that the next DAR chief will be a former military officer, since there are already military men in the Cabinet and other government offices.

During the forum, Mariano discussed possible scenarios should Duterte appoint a military officer to DAR. One possibility, he said, is the reversal of “important” DAR administrative orders (AO) he issued during his year-long stint as secretary.

This includes an AO that issued guidelines on landed estates under agrarian reform, and another which gives way to the land acquisition and distribution process, and farmer installation despite applications for conversion involving agricultural lands or pending acquisition proceedings.

“‘Yung reversals e dapat ‘wag mangyari. Ano man ‘yung mga naging accomplishment ng DAR at ginansya ng ating mga magsasaka ay ‘wag nang mabawi. Kung ang i-a-appoint diyan ay galing na naman sa hanay ng militar, lalong sasabihin noong ating mga mamamayan – hindi lang mga magsasaka – talagang kitang-kita mo na ang militarization of civilian bureaucracy,” he explained to Rappler.

(The reversal should not happen. Whatever the DAR accomplished, and whatever our farmers gained should not be reversed. If they appoint someone from the military, the people – not just farmers – will really say that the militarization of civilian bureaucracy is evident.)

Mariano refused to recommend someone for the job he had to vacate in September.

After Mariano’s rejection at the CA, Duterte appointed DAR Undersecretary Rosalina Bistoyong as officer-in-charge. – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.