Press Release
May 30, 2018


As Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary John Rualo Castriciones was officially confirmed, Sen. Grace Poe reminded him to address the longstanding woes of the country's farmers and landless tillers and to use government resources judiciously.

Poe, chairperson of the Commission on Appointment's committee on agrarian reform, also asked Castriciones to reach out to the farmers and fisherfolk groups, landowners and tenants, department employees and to those who opposed his confirmation, saying they raised legitimate concerns during the hearings.

"Work with them in harmony. Babantayan po namin ang magiging hakbang ninyo. Maging mabuti sa lahat ng nasasakupan. Maging masinop sa salapi at pag-aari ng mamamayan at ng pamahalaan. Iwaksi ang paghihiganti," Poe said in her sponsorship speech on the official's confirmation.

The members of the committee voted 13-2 in secret balloting on Tuesday to confirm Castriciones amid opposition from agrarian reform advocates, including a former agriculture secretary.

"The decision to confirm Secretary John Rualo Castriciones is a majority decision. The Commission on Appointments is a collegial body and works on the basis of cooperation, democratic process of majority rule and mutual respect," Poe explained.

The senator said lawmakers would keep watch on Castriciones' action on the pleas of farmers: acceleration of land acquisition, improving social services, declogging the backlog in agrarian reform cases; fasttracking the delivery of agrarian justice; and reducing the overhead of DAR to save money.

"Ginoong Kalihim, nawa'y maging makatarungan, maayos at makabuluhan sa lahat ang inyong paglilingkod sa Kagawaran. Because the next time you appear here to defend your agency's budget, you will be asked of actions taken on matters we raised with you before," she stressed.

Poe added, "This is my way of reminding the nominee that executive work involves constant navigation through a lot of constitutional checkpoints, the most tiring and tedious of which is during the appropriations season in front of the same Members of this body."

"So those questions we asked the nominee during the past weeks will not be archived, but simply bookmarked to be raised until we meet again, and raised again and again until the answers fully satisfy us," Poe emphasized.

The senator said that while doubts were raised on the qualifications of the DAR chief, she believes these weaknesses can be overcome by his strengths.

"His past indiscretion is a debt repaid, but which he continues to amortize with every good deed he makes," she said.

"And I happen to believe that sometimes it takes an outsider, who has not been a subject of 'institutional capture,' who is outside the box, to shake things up with his fresh and unorthodox views," Poe added.

News Latest News Feed