NEW AGRARIAN Reform Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano opened yesterday the gates of his office, which he described as the “walls” that hinder farmers and other stakeholders of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) from gaining complete access to the Department.
Mariano hammered the padlocks until they broke apart and opened the gates in front of the DAR administration building at 2:11 p.m. to the big applause from DAR officials and employees, who felt relieved and freed from the stigma brought about by the padlocking of the gates they thought placed them in an imaginary cage.
“The opening of the DAR gates ushers the start of continuing and productive dialogues between the DAR and the CARP stakeholders,” Mariano said before journalists shortly after the symbolic opening of the gates.
“This also ended years of estrangement between the DAR management officials and the CARP stakeholders, especially the farmers,” he added.
Former DAR Secretary Hernani Braganza ordered the padlocking of the gates in 2002 after protesting farmers stormed, padlocked the door of his office and set up a vigil in front of his office at the fourth floor of the DAR administration building. The gates were reinforced under the administration of former Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes to keep protesting farmers at bay.
Mariano said the opening of the gates, especially during office hours, manifests his administration’s “open door” policy. It is also a way of telling everybody is welcome to come and visit him anytime during office hours.
The former Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) Chair and Anakpawis partylist representative also urged DAR officials and rank and file employees to take it upon themselves to welcome visiting farmers with open arms and make sure that they are attended to properly.
“Kapag may nakita tayong mga magsasakang paparating, atin na silang salubungin at iparamdam sa kanila ang mainit na pagbati at pag-aasikaso sa anumang kanilang nais iparating sa atin (If and when we see farmers coming, let us meet them right away, greet them with open arms and attend to their queries right away),” Mariano said.# (Public Assistance and Media Relations Service, Department of Agrarian Reform)