(Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church 168)
The National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), together with our Diocesan Social Action Centers (DSACs), are one with farmers organizations and agrarian reform advocates, in supporting the appointment of Rafael V. Mariano as Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
Since his nomination last June 2016, Secretary Mariano or “Ka Paeng” has made impressive pronouncements and policies in favor of poor farmers struggling to own their lands legitimately according to the Constitution and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) – the social justice program of our country.
He complemented his commitments through his actual visits to heavily contested areas
He scheduled and installed numerous farmers to their lands, encouraged Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) to be firm in protecting their acquired lands amid challenges of resistance, obstructions and even harassment against them.
Subsequently, DAR gained the trust of ARBs and agrarian reform advocates as illustrated in the many invitations for dialogue and collaborative work for the welfare of ARBs.
This marked a significant departure from the situation where DAR had not been able to effectively implement the program in the past 30 years. Farmers reported that Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer have become more cooperative and approachable.
Farmers who attended our AR National Conference on Protecting Farmers’ Land Tenure and Ownership last 29-31 June, 2017 were inspired and excited on hearing his promises to investigate illegal/ premature and unauthorized conversions for criminal and administrative sanctions; make an inventory of land already awarded and distributed for actual status of farmers; and especially his pronouncement that “no farmer shall be displaced from the land s/he tills even if s/he is not yet AR beneficiary.” His first executive order was to protect farmers from being evicted, especially from Hacienda Luisita. He has indeed motivated the farmers’ dream of land-ownership and he provided new opportunity for us to re-establish good relationship with DAR.
The appointment of Rafael Mariano as DAR Secretary is one of the fulfillment of the President’s promises for socio-economic reform of farming communities; land reform is also part of the Philippine Development Plan legislative agenda.
From our experience working with Mariano in the past year we are convinced that he is the best person to lead DAR. Thus he should be formally confirmed based on his qualification, experience, track record and his commitment to landless farmers.
His family background of farmworker, and his experience in campaigning and leading formulation of policies as well as his immersion in communities for information dissemination and resolving conflicts are most appropriate for knowing the needs of the farmers; his being a hands-on leader in going personally to regions to install farmers, are most needed and appreciated by farmers. He is now even expected to push for bills and measures to truly alleviate the plight of farmers.
Access to support services and empowerment of farming communities is highly dependent on economic policy and an effective leader to counter landowners and investors. Loss of leadership with political will may change the administration of DAR and his on-going positive arrangements and gains for the farmers and will potentially discourage ARBOs gains on collective action and solidarity.
Our country needs good leadership, with a heart, to ensure welfare of the poor and marginalized. We have one in the Department of Agrarian Reform. We need the political will and hands-on commitment of Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano to actualize the social justice program of our country, particularly for the landless farmers who have potential to provide sustainable source of food for all.
Together with farmers, Agrarian Reform advocates and our Social Action Network, we therefore urge the Commission on Appointment to confirm the appointment of Rafael “Ka Paeng” V. Mariano as DAR Secretary, based on his commitment for farmers and the mandate of the Department, his track record and potential to alleviate poverty and hunger of our country through empowering our farmers. We rely on your discernment and commitment for the poor to make the right decision.
30 August 2017
EDWIN A. GARIGUEZ
MOST REV. ROLANDO J. TRIA TIRONA, OCD DD
Archbishop of Caceres