"Bagamat bigo po tayong makuha ang kumpirmasyon ng Commission on Appointments ngayong araw na ito, hindi po titigil ang inyong lingkod, si Ka Paeng Mariano, na pagsilbihan ang ating mga magsasaka," Mariano said in a press conference after the CA rejected his appointment on Wednesday, September 6.
(Although we failed to get the confirmation of the Commission on Appointments today, I, Ka Paeng Mariano, will not stop serving our farmers.)
He continued: "Maaaring nanaig ang interes ng makauri ng mga panginoong may lupa, the big landlords, oligarchs, negosyante, at malalaking korporasyon, ngunit darating din po ang araw na magsasaka naman at lahat ng inaaping uri at pinagsasamantalahan sa ating lipunan ang mananaig."
(The interest of the big landlords, oligarchs, businessmen, and big corporations may have prevailed, but the day will come when the interest of our farmers and the marginalized sectors of our society will also prevail.)
In his short, 4-minute press conference, he promised to continue fighting "hangga't 'di nalulutas ang pangunahing suliranin sa lupa na isa sa ugat ng krisis sa lipunang Pilipino (until we have not solved the problems concerning land – one of the roots of crisis in Philippine society)."
After the press conference, Mariano addressed the groups protested outside the Senate where he delivered a longer, 11-minute speech. He reiterated that the CA sided with landlords and oligarchs.
"Sabi ko ngayon, dahil sa rejection ng aking ad interim appointment as secretary ng DAR, mas madalas 'nyo na po akong makakasama. Umasa po kayo na si Ka Paeng Mariano ay tuloy-tuloy na makikipagkapit bisig sa uring magsasaka, sa uring manggagawa, sa masang anak pawis, para ipaglaban ang ating makauring interes," he said.
(I said now, because of the rejection of my ad interim appointment as DAR secretary, I will be with you more often. You can count on this, that Ka Paeng Mariano will continue to be with farmers and workers to fight for their interests.)
He said he will fight until there is genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization in the country. He also said he is confident that he and other officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) had left a mark during the past year.
During his speech, Mariano thanked members of the CA who showed him their votes.
"Kukumpletuhin lamang po natin 'yung impormasyon, at ako po mismo ang maghahayag kung ilan at sinu-sino ang bumoto po for confirmation sa akin, sa aking ad interim appointment as secretary ng DAR," he added.
(We will just gather the all the information, and I myself will announce how many and who among the members of CA voted for my confirmation, for my ad interim appointment as secretary of DAR.)
On the peace talks, Mariano told the groups that he will continue to contribute towards a true and lasting peace in the country.
"Mawawakasan lang at mabubunot ang ugat ng armadong labanan sa ating bansa kung mapapawi ang agrarian unrest, social unrest sa ating bansa. Mahalaga ang makabuluhang repormang pang-ekonomiya at pang-lipunan," he added.
(We will only end and uproot the armed conflict in our country by addressing agrarian unrest and social unrest. Meaningful economic and societal reforms are important.)
Allegations vs Mariano
In particular, CA member and Occidental Mindoro Representative Josephine Ramirez-Sato asked Mariano about a joint resolution issued by the Regional Development Council and the Regional Peace and Order Council of the Davao Region.
In the joint resolution, both councils informed the CA of Mariano's alleged involvement in the planning of New People's Army attacks on the Lapanday Group of Companies and the Lorenzo family on April 29, 2017, in Davao City and Panabo City.
President Rodrigo Duterte's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, signed the joint resolution together with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año, among other signatories.
"It was, in fact suggested, that the GRP [Government of the Republic of the Philippines] Peace Panel recommend to the Office of the President to exclude these officials, particularly the Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform, from representing the government in the peace panel as they are reported to have direct participation in the planning of the Lapanday incidents, thus, have betrayed the trust of the Office of the President," part of the joint resolution said.
LOOK: Joint resolution on the April 29 Lapanday incidents that was cited by Sato earlier pic.twitter.com/E9BMM7maaW — Jee Y. Geronimo (@jeegeronimo) September 6, 2017
Mariano categorically denied his involvement in the said incident despite "intelligence reports" linking him to it.
"Kung mayroon po silang matibay na pruweba, marahil siguro ay sinampahan na nila ako ng kaso (If they have concrete evidence, they could've filed a case against me already)," he explained, calling again these allegations "baseless, unfounded, and malicious." – Rappler.com
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.