- New DAR Sec. Rafael Mariano opened the welded gates of the DAR office that used to keep protesters out
- Mariano himself was the former chair of a peasant group that led such protests
- Mariano says the new administration would be open to all sorts of complaints, even from protesters
Among the very first tasks of newly-installed Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael Mariano was to literally open the welded gates of the agency, which served as a barricade to keep protesters out of the government compound.
The main driveway gate of the DAR has been welded and locked with chains for more than 18 years in order to keep protesters out.
Mariano, who himself is a founding member and former chairman of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) that were among those that led such protests, said the opening of the gates of DAR was also a symbol for the breaking down of any wall between government and ordinary citizens.
“This symbolizes that DAR, on all levels, will maintain open. We will follow a policy of continuing open and productive dialogues between the officials and employees of DAR and other stakeholders of agrarian reform, especially our farmers and agricultural workers, and advocates. This serves to remove all fences, walls between the officials and employees of DAR, and our stakeholders,” Mariano told the Inquirer.
The new DAR secretary said he will use his experience as a son of farmers who later became among the leaders of the peasant movement in the Philippines and three-term Anakpawis party-list representative to fulfill his duties as part of the Cabinet of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“What I have to hold onto, as the new secretary of DAR, is that I am truly from a family of farmers. I have been with KMP for more than 30 years and I have almost nine years’ experience as representative of Anakpawis in Congress. I have experience knowing the pulse, the gripes, the dream of our farmers to own the lands they till,” he said.
With the new change at the DAR office, Mariano told agency workers that the department would welcome all kinds of complaints, including those from protesters.
“If anyone comes to the agency, if there are any rallies, pickets or demonstrations in front of the office, let us not worry. Our farmers come here to the DAR for a reason. Let us welcome them,” he said.