Justice for the Farmers! Land for the People!
ILOILO City – Various farmers organizations in Panay, in a press conference this afternoon, urged the members of the Commission on Appointments (CA) to confirm the interim appointment of Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano as Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary.
According to Cris Chavez, Western Visayas coordinator of Anakpawis Partylist, which Ka Paeng represented as congressman for nine years, there is no other person most suited for the position other than Ka Paeng.
“He himself is a farmer, has represented the farmers’ voice in congress, and has consistently lobbied and fought for farmers rights and welfare for almost four decades now.”
Joselito Sira of Uswag Mangunguma sa Balabag, Sta. Barbara, an organization of victims of land-use conversion, said that Ka Paeng has already brought some developments in their struggle against land-use conversion.
“He has already issued a TRO against land conversion on some areas. There has been a lot of illegal conversions going on robbing us of our livelihood and leave us hungry,” said Sira of UMASBI.
In San Miguel, Iloilo, farmers received their individual CLOAs during Ka Paeng’s term.
“In less than a year only, we have received our individual land titles which was denied to us for several years already. Though we are just lowly farmers and far from where Ka Paeng is, he always see to it that as farmers, we get justice,” said Judy Supelario, a farmer-leader from San Miguel.
Farmers in Capiz also want Sec. Mariano to stay as DAR Secretary.
“Our land case in Bungsuan Stockfarm in Dumarao has been static for the last 20 years. But during Ka Paeng’s term, he was able to get the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) approval to put under DAR’s jurisdiction the remaining 120 hectares to be distributed to us,” said Cornelio Gaspar of Kahublagan sang mga Mangunguma sa Capiz (KAMACA).
The Bungsuan Stockfarm has remained under DA for a long time. It was in the 1980s when 465 of the total 585 hectares was first distributed to the farmers. DAR that time said that the Bureau of Animal Industry of DA will use the remaining 120 hectares as dairy farm.
In Culilang, President Roxas, farmers continue to stage their Kampuhan and Bungkalan inside the disputed Tan Estate. Last February, a farmer was killed while defending their lands against armed goons of the landlord.
Angelo Orinse of Unyon ng mga Mangangawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) Panay chapter said that farmers have already made productive a certain portion of land as rice farms.
“We have continued to assert our rights because we are now equipped of it and we have Ka Paeng to support us.”
PAMANGGAS chairperson Lucia Capaducio stressed that only Ka Paeng could serve the farmers better without corruption and with compassion.
“Ka Paeng has proven himself worthy of the position as secretary of DAR. He has the support of his team and most especially of us farmers. It is our pride to have a fellow farmer serving us who knows exactly of our rights and struggles,” Capaducio added.
This August 30, Wednesday, various farmer’s groups and other sectoral organizations will have a day-long activity in time of Commission on Appointments’ deliberation of Sec. Mariano’s confirmation.(John Ian S. Alenciaga | panaytoday.net)