Commission on Appointments rejects Mariano as Agrarian Reform chief

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 06 2017 02:42 PM | Updated as of Sep 06 2017 03:18 PM

Rafael Mariano gestures as he faces the Commission on Appointments panel during his confirmation hearing at the Senate. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday rejected the appointment of activist Rafael Mariano as Agrarian Reform Secretary.

Majority of the panel voted against Mariano, according to Senate Majority leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, who led the confirmation hearings. 

At least 13 lawmakers voted against the confirmation of the ad-interim appointment of Mariano, said Sotto.

"It is with a heavy heart that I as chairman of your committee on Agrarian Reform respectfully submit the result of the voting of your committee which resulted in a minimum of 13 votes against the confirmation of the ad-interim appointment of Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano as secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform," said Sotto. 

Sotto said the members however "have expressed hope that Ka Paeng, being a true farmer himself" would have been the "perfect candidate to serve as bridge between the Duterte administration which he now serves, and the left of center forces from whose ranks he came." 

During the announcement, Mariano opted to occupy a seat at the public gallery instead of the VIP section of the Session Hall.

Following the announcement, Davao Oriental Rep. Joel Mayo Almario expressed support for Mariano, saying he wanted the latter to be confirmed since he believed that the outgoing DAR chief can put a stop to the practice of some farmer-beneficiaries in illegally selling their lands.

Mariano was the second left-leaning secretary ousted from Duterte's Cabinet after former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo also failed to get the CA's nod last month.

Aside from Mariano and Taguiwalo, CA also voted against the confirmations of President Rodrigo Duterte's appointees, Perfecto Yasay Jr. for foreign affairs, and Gina Lopez for the environment portfolio.