House lawmakers dismayed over Mariano rejection mull bolting out of majority bloc


LAWMAKERS at the House of Representatives expressed dismay at the Commission on Appointments’ (CA) rejection of the ad interim appointment of Rafael Mariano as agrarian reform secretary.

Rep. Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis party-list said that President Rodrigo Duterte was committing a “calamitous and grave mistake” by supporting the decision of the commission.

In a statement, Casilao said that Mariano was crucial to the peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Mariano’s post is also important to the legislation of a genuine agrarian reform program via free distribution of land, Casilao said.

Rep. Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna party-list, in a separate statement echoed Casilao.

He added that Duterte was the first one to let Mariano down and that Duterte’s “reactionary character” was now fully unmasked.

Zarate said an emergency meeting would be held next week to assess the Makabayan bloc’s membership in the majority coalition.

Rep. Teddy Baguilat, Jr. of Ifugao and a member of the majority said that despite his differences with Mariano, he was saddened to lose a promising secretary from the peasant sector.

“We also hope that the initiatives Ka Paeng started such as the installation of farmer-beneficiaries in the lands that they till and the moratorium on the conversion of prime agricultural lands would not be stymied or reversed,” Baguila said in a statement.

Rep. Joel Almario of Davao Oriental Second District said that he had hoped for the appointment of Mariano, saying that he would have been successful in educating the farmer beneficiaries against illegally selling lands.

Almario added that Mariano’s seat on the Land Bank of the Philippines’ board of directors could help with the its mandate of supporting the farmers and fisherfolk in the countryside.

“The poorest of the poor are the farmers and the fisherfolks, they are badly in need of a champion who will fight for their cause. Ka Paeng would have been their best voice,” said Almario. RALPH EDWIN U. VILLANUEVA



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