Farmers lament appointment of ‘minion’ as DAR OIC

A farmer’s group lamented the appointment of local government undersecretary John Rualo Castriciones as new acting secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), citing the official’s lack of background in agrarian reform.

“Castriciones who? He doesn’t ring a bell,” Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) secretary general Antonio Flores said.

The Office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea announced Castriciones’ appointment Friday night, December 1, replacing DAR OIC Rosalino Bistoyong.

Malacañang has yet to release a copy of the document.

Castriciones previously hit the news as among three Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) officials who caused the sacking of their former Secretary Ishmael Sueño, the first in the Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet.

A few months later, Castriciones himself was the subject of complaints by DILG employees for alleged corruption.

The official also served as director of the then transportation and communication department legal service.

A lawyer by profession who has handled criminal, civil, maritime, transportation, corporate, real estate, construction, immigration and labor cases, according to his law firm’s website.

In its statement, the KMP also said Castriciones was dismissed from the Philippine Military Academy in the ‘80s after he was implicated in a hazing incident that killed cadet Andres Ramos in November 1981.

“No mention of background on agrarian reform. How would he perform at DAR?” KMP’s Flores asked.

The KMP said Castriciones is given a key Cabinet position because he actively campaigned for Duterte in last year’s Presidential elections.

Castriciones was vice president of the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte volunteer group (MRRD) and was an active member of the so-called Diehard Duterte Supporters (DDS) during the elections.

“Another fan, a minion was given a strategic government post. Castriciones’ appointment at DAR clearly shows how Duterte regard land reform and the cause of farmers in the country,” Flores said.

“He (Duterte) treats (agrarian reform) like some sort of a joke. This is sickening and unacceptable,” Flores added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)