Quezon City, Philippines–The tables are turned.
Farmer- leader Rafael Mariano who once led the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in dialogues with government officials aptly assumes office as the first and only true-blooded farmer to sit as DAR Secretary.
“I was a synthetic farmer, having been the grandson of a Batangas farmer, but Ka Paeng is the real farmer,” admits outgoing secretary Virgilio De los Reyes during the recent turnover ceremony held at the DAR gymnasium attended by some 500 DAR employees and handful of visitors from the incoming team.
Ka Paeng was warmly welcomed as he thanked the DAR’s transition team for the transition report from outgoing DAR chief Virgilio de los Reyes.
Among his to-do-lists, Ka Paeng plans to convene this month the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) to revisit the bureaucracy’s policy issues. He noted under the Aquino administration, PARC officials never meet even once.
There was a resounding clapping of hands when he announced his plan to boost the morale of DAR employees and recognized the worth of even the lowly utility worker of DAR, the rank –and-file and the drivers. He said he will seek suspension of the rationalization order in which more than 869 positions were invalidated, which undoubtedly caused dismay among employees.
He also plans to strengthen the department’s connectivity programs with DA, DENR, DILG, DOJ and NEDA has started discussions with DENR secretary Gina Lopez and DA’s chief Manuel Pinon.
Anakpawis and KMP members who were invited during the turnover raised clenched fists in victory when Ka Paeng announced an open-door policy in the once-heavily guarded bureaucracy. He reminded everyone the reason why DAR has the mandate: it is because of the farmers, he noted.
Will there be no rallies under his term?
With his open door-policy, rallies will grow and strengthen in support of Genuine Agrarian Reform Program, He urged DAR employees to welcome farmer groups and to assist them in their concerns.
Echoing President Duterte’s inaugural speech, Ka Paeng said he is also ready to go to work. # (Aya Jallorina, Ferdie Mendoza)