Duterte blames ex-DAR chief Mariano for land conversion backlog

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 08 2019 09:49 PM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday blamed former Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano for the backlog in land use conversion cases at the department, as he vouched for the capability of current DAR chief, John Castriciones.

Duterte has been complaining about the tedious process for land use conversion cases, even blowing his top and storming out of a Cabinet meeting this week.

He said the sluggish pace in land use conversion requests was brought to his attention.

“Kasi may mga dumating sa aking reklamo, sabi pending dyan sa conversion sa DAR [Department of Agrarian Reform]. Hindi niya kasalanan, bago lang ito si Castriciones eh. Si Mariano,” Duterte said in a speech in Legazpi City, Albay.

(I received complaints about land conversion cases in DAR. It’s not Castriciones’ fault, he is just new. It was Mariano.)

Mariano, one of several leftists appointed by Duterte after he won the presidency in 2016, was rejected by the Commission on Appointments in 2017 and had to step down.

Duterte said the red tape involving land use conversion cases frustrates him since it is an opportunity for corruption.

“Clearance, clearance, clearance, about 30 clearances. There is always a table there for corruption,” he said.

Secretary to the Cabinet Karlo Nograles said the DAR has committed to resolve land use conversion requests as fast as possible, but the agency also relayed concerns about the process of getting certifications from other government agencies.

He said the DAR, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Energy, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, National Housing Authority, and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board have agreed to draft a joint memorandum circular that will streamline the process from the current 24 to 36 months to just 30 days.

Duterte earlier warned he would fire two DAR officials over the matter, but Nograles said the President has not yet followed through with this threat.