A Call for the Resignation of Nasser C. Pangandaman, DAR Secretary

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The recent incident involving two public figures - no less than Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman and his son, Mayor of Masiu, Lanao del Sur - revealed how gross power can make of officials without the moorings of modesty and decency. (In the said incident, the Pangandamans and their bodyguards reportedly beat up a 56-year-old golfer and his 14-year-old junior-golfer son. This was after the alleged spat over a golf etiquette. Very unbecoming, the fact that it occurred in a place considered by true-blue golfers as "'gentlemen's" ground.)

The public must have been surprised at what happened. We were not; for we have known from the start what Mr. Pangandaman is capable of doing:

* He calls peasants questioning his leadership as "fake farmers". He did this to farmers of Negros and Sumilao, Bukidnon.

* He is short-tempered and impatient during his encounters with the farmers.

* He signs orders and circulars with his eyes closed. He did this many times, including that involving 7,000-hectare Hacienda Yulo which his Department affirmed as exempted from agrarian reform and up for conversion into industrial and residential use even though this prime agricultural land has not yet been so converted since 1993.

* He sleeps on the hundreds of land cases long filed at the Department.

* He can play dirty politics while at the helm of the Department, just as he did it before he took the DAR leadership post. Based on an expose in 2007, he has at his disposal DAR's resources to perpetuate his political interests.

In the wake of the emaciation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), the Pangandamans can afford to enjoy the holidays playing golf and punching a 14-year old boy. Thanks to Congress' and Senate's resolution to extend CARP by six months and exclude compulsory acquisition from the land transfer schemes, the farmers have less chances of owning lands rightfully theirs. The incident between the Pangandamans and the dela Pazes reminds us of government officials' abuse of power, including converting agricuture-productive lands into many golf courses nationwide. In the case of golf courses constructed within the Yulo landholdings as well as of the Valley Golf in Antipolo, farmers are disenfranchised of their right to own lands.

But we do believe that one major reason why the Senate in particular did not vote for a longer extension of CARP is that it held the Department accountable for graft and corruption that characterized the program over the years.

Since last year, we have called for the resignation of Mr. Pangandaman as DAR Secretary on the abovecited bases.

We urge the public to join us in this call. The farmers and the public do not deserve this kind of leader.