The PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) joins the peasant movement in the Philippines in welcoming the appointment of Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano as the new Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) by incoming President Rodrigo Duterte.
Ka Paeng’s appointment is certainly a very positive development for advocates of genuine agrarian reform. As a long-time leader of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines or KMP), Ka Paeng has a solid track record in defending the rights of farmers over land and other productive resources.
As one of our most reliable partners in the campaign against land grabbing and promotion of people’s food sovereignty, we have witnessed how KMP led by Ka Paeng and other peasant leaders has tirelessly worked to advance the interests and welfare of small and poor farmers, including the landless, not only in the Philippines but in the region as well.
PANAP has always valued the sharp insights of Ka Paeng, even when he was already a member of the Philippine Congress, in advancing various peasant campaigns in Asia Pacific. He was a member of PANAP’s Task Force on Food Sovereignty that conceptualized and led, among others, the People’s Caravan on Food Sovereignty, which mobilized 500 organizations in 16 countries.
We hope that Ka Paeng’s appointment will also serve as an inspiration for the peasant movement in the region. It affirms that through unwavering struggle, even the powers that be is forced to recognize the need to put peasant activists in government to push for meaningful policy reforms that will truly benefit the oppressed and exploited farmers.
But we also acknowledge that even with Ka Paeng at the helm of the agrarian reform ministry, pro-farmer reforms will not automatically happen as long as the overall agrarian and agricultural development program remains biased to landlords and big corporations. Thus, as our friends in KMP know, while Ka Paeng’s appointment as DAR Secretary is a new and exciting chapter in our struggle, we must persevere more in our work to further strengthen the peasant movement in the Philippines and in the region. ###
Reference: Ms. Sarojeni V. Rengam, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org