• CA defers confirmation of agrarian reform chief


    THE Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday suspended the deliberations on the confirmation of Secretary John Rualo Castriciones as agrarian reform secretary after the bicameral body questioned his qualifications.

    President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Castriciones on December 1, 2017 to replace Rafael Mariano, whose appointment was rejected by the CA.

    Rep. Tom Villarin opposed the appointment of Castriciones because of his apparent lack of a track record and special training to lead the agency.

    “If you are a secretary, you should hit the ground running on day one. Without the necessary qualification, such appointee [would]not be able to do so,” Villarin told Castriciones during his confirmation hearing.

    “There are farmer-beneficiaries who I have personally talked to have written the DAR secretary about the implementation of their certificates of land ownership [award]but no action has been taken,” he said.

    Castriciones, however, told the CA that he was qualified for the position since he belonged “to a family of farmers (and) in my practice as lawyer I have given advice to my provincemates and my law students who are now lawyers and judges.”

    “I am qualified for the position as most of the functions in the department as secretary does not necessary need for you to be a farmer to understand. We have to dwell on matters that are legal in nature and that is probably the reason cases have piled up,” he said.

    Castriciones said the DAR was now handling 14,000 cases. “It will be a bit difficult for DAR to decide on these matter if the person who sits does not have any legal background,” he said.

    Sen. Grace Poe, chairman of the CA’s Committee on Agrarian Reform, has instructed Castriciones to submit a list of the agrarian reform cases that he handled and their status. BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO



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