FORMER Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano on Thursday said allegations linking him to the attacks by communist rebels on the facilities of Lapanday Foods Corp. early this year might have convinced the powerful Commission on Appointments to reject his appointment.
In an interview on ANC, Mariano insisted he had no hand in the planning of the attacks as alleged in the resolution forwarded by the Regional Development Council and Regional Peace and Order Council in Davao Region to the CA committee on agrarian reform.
The resolution was signed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año, AFP Eastern Mindanao Command commander Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, and Davao Occidental Governor Claude Bautista, among others.
In Malacañang, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella told a news briefing President Rodrigo Duterte continued to be open in his relationship with the left, but admitted the relationship had been “complicated.”
“If we are going to work together, then there must be some form of agreement. And, apparently, at this stage, it’s a little bit complicated,” he added.
Despite this, however, Abella claimed the Palace was quite saddened with Mariano’s rejection as Agrarian Reform secretary.
“It’s quite regrettable that, you know, that people of opposing beliefs are not there…because it would really add to the…richness of the dialogue,” he said.
At least 13 members of the appointments body voted against Mariano’s confirmation.
Mariano, nominated by the left-leaning National Democratic Front, is the fourth Cabinet appointee of Duterte to be rejected. The three earlier rejected were Perfecto Yasay, Regina Lopez, and Judy Taguiwalo.
The RDC and RPOC said despite the ongoing peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army still attacked three business establishments and Task Force Davao in April.
According to the resolution, the “hostile acts” resulted in the burning of two trucks of the Macondray Plastic Factory in Panabo City in Davao del Norte, burning of the Lapanday box plant in Barangay Mandug, Davao City, burning of the house and vehicles of the Lorenzo family in Barangay Pangyan, Davao City, and an improvised explosive device attack against TFD that conducted clearing operations in Davao City while on their way to respond to the burning of the Lapanday plant.
The attacks reportedly resulted in the death of a civilian and about P2-billion damage in property.
Asked if the termination of peace talks was a sign of loss of confidence on the part of the President, Mariano said he remained optimistic that both sides would go back to the negotiating table.
He said the CA decision indicated the body’s bias for the interest of landlords and oligarchs accused of continuously resisting agrarian reform.