06 Jul CHANGE HAS COME: DAR Gates Finally Opened After 18 Years
On Monday, July 4, Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano literally ended the boundaries between the government and the citizens by hammering the driveway gates of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on Elliptical Road in Quezon City that has been closed to the people for 18 years.
It is outside these gates where the farmers had their rally. One of the prominent groups that have been here before, where Mariano himself is a founding member and former chairman is the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).
He is also a president and a member of the Anakpawis party-list and chair of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.
“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,” Mariano said.
He also added, “This serves to remove all fences, walls between the officials and employees of DAR, and our stakeholders.”
He also shared his experience outside the DAR gates as a protester, he said, “Farmers led by the KMP stayed here for more than a week before the Jan. 22, 1987, Mendiola Massacre.”
He is optimistic in his service to the farmers for he knows their wants and needs. He said, “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.”
Mariano said that the gates now are very open to the farmers that will go there, even 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.”
The gates have been closed during the Estrada administration and have been guarded heavily from 2010 under the Aquino administration.
“The management said it was for our safety, for the safety of the building and property… so it would be better if they controlled the entry of people,” DAR Employees Association secretary, Gloria Almazan said.
Almazan added, “It’s better for the farmers to come in. I understand the farmers are facing a lot of problems so you really have to attend to them.”
When the gates opened on Monday, the workers of the DAR harmoniously shouted: “We are free!”