MANILA - Former Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael "Ka Paeng" Mariano believes "fabricated lies" linking him to the attacks on the Lapanday plantation in Davao City may have contributed to his rejection before the Commission on Appointments.
Speaking to ANC Thursday, Mariano said a joint resolution signed by no less than Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año, among others, accused him of participating in these New People's Army (NPA) attacks.
"Kulang na lang sabihing ako'y kasama sa pagpaplano at pag-atake ng NPA sa mga ari-arian ng Lapanday. I categorically deny 'yung ganoong alegasyon. 'Yan ay baseless, unfounded, malicious accusations. At ngayon sasabihin ko, fabricated lies," he said.
(It's like almost accusing me of participating in the NPA's planning and attacking of the Lapanday properties. I categorically deny those baseless, unfounded, malicious allegations. And if I may add, those are fabricated lies.)
Mariano was referring to a joint resolution issued by the Regional Development Council at Regional Peace and Order Council of the Davao Region, also signed by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, saying he may have a hand in the Lapanday attacks.
"'Yung rejection ng aking ad interim appointment ay nag-tilt sa interes ng malalaking landlords at oligarchs sa bansa, malalaking lokal at dayuhang korporasyon, at di kumiling sa landless peasants, sa poor and marginalized sectors ng ating lipunan," he said.
(My rejection tilted to the interest of the big landlords and oligarchs in the country, and the big local and foreign corporations, instead of the landless peasants, the poor and marginalized sectors of the society.)
Ka Paeng is the latest Leftist to leave the Duterte Cabinet, following the rejection of former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo. Liza Maza of the National Anti-Poverty Commission is the only National Democratic Front-nominated secretary left in the admin.
Though he is a former leader of Leftist groups Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Mariano stressed that he has never endorsed nor supported armed struggle or any activities outside the bounds of the law.
Mariano laments that the Commission on Appointments failed to see what the Department of Agrarian Reform has accomplished during his one-year stint.
"Sa 26,000 hectares nating naipamahagi, sa ating panunungkulan, at sa mahigit 15,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries natin, 12,000 mahigit na 'yung ating nainstall na beneficiaries. Tiyak na 'yung karapatan nila sa lupa ay napoprotektahan," he said.
(Of the 26,000 hectares of land we distributed, and a total of 15,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries, 12,000 have already been installed, meaning their rights to their own land have been secured.)
Now he that he's not part of the government anymore, Mariano said he will continue to push for the advocacy of genuine land reform by joining peaceful protests.