CA rejects Rafael Mariano as agrarian reform secretary

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday, September 6, rejected the ad interim appointment of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano.

The CA plenary adopted the recommendation of the CA committee on agrarian reform which held confirmation hearings on the Cabinet official.

In explaining the decision of the CA panel, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said 13 members voted against the confirmation of Mariano.

"After an exhaustive deliberation and impartial scrutiny of the testimonies, endorsements, oppositions, and documents submitted, your committee called for a vote. In accordance with the results, in accordance with the rules, I should say, the weight of the scales ultimately tipped the balance against the confirmation of the appointee," said Sotto, chairman of the CA committee on agrarian reform.

He said that during the hearings, the committee members had "expressed hope that Ka Paeng, being a true farmer himself, and having been nominated by the National Decmoratic Frontand its allied organizations for the position of DAR secretary, would be the perfect candidate to serve as a bridge between the Duterte administration which he now serves, and left of center forces from whose ranks he came."

"The members were also counting on him to be the best surrogate for the President to genuinely identify and relay the serious concerns of farmers like him but without losing sight of the equally valid interest of landowners," Sotto added, before announcing Mariano's rejection.

Mariano is the 4th member of the Duterte Cabinet to be rejected by the CA, after former foreign secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr, former environment secretary Gina Lopez, and former social welfare secretary Judy Taguiwalo.

A nominee of the Left like Taguiwalo, Mariano was reappointed in July after he was bypassed by the powerful body for the second time. 

During the confirmation hearings, Mariano addressed some of his oppositors who accused him of favoring certain farmers' groups and supporting their illegal acts.

Up to his final confirmation hearing, Mariano denied any personal involvement in incidents involving these groups. 

During his stint as secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform, Mariano spearheaded the installation of farmers on a Tagum City farm managed by Lapanday Foods Corporation. His department also ordered the distribution of hundreds of hectares of Hacienda Luicita.

Recently, Mariano signed an administrative order which gives way to the land acquisition and distribution process and farmer installation despite applications for conversion involving agricultural lands or pending acquisition proceedings.

The Duterte administration holds the record in terms of most number of presidential appointees rejected by the CA.

Prior to the Duterte administration, there were only two other presidential appointees rejected by the CA – former finance secretary Ramon del Rosario Jr who served the administration of Fidel Ramos, and Ricardo Saludo, Civil Service Commission chairman of the Arroyo administration. – 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.

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