SENATORIAL CANDIDATE
13. CASTRICIONES, JOHN
PDP-LBN

Bro John Castriciones, 60, is a former agrarian reform secretary who has been practicing and teaching law for more than 23 years. He has also authored a number of books.

He was made secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform in 2017, an appointment opposed by a number of agrarian reform activists and farmer leaders who flagged what they called his anti-farmer and anti-union policies. During his confirmation hearing, he admitted to lawmakers that his agrarian law practice involved representing a landlord. He was also questioned about his alleged involvement in hazing rites that led to the death of a neophyte cadet at the Philippine Military Academy where he graduated along with the rest of the Maharlika Class of 1994. Castriciones was confirmed two months after initially being bypassed.

As agrarian reform secretary, he streamlined the legal procedures to manage the administrative cases pending with the department, reaching a near-zero backlog in the unresolved proceedings according to a DAR announcement.

He earned the ire of the president as well as peasant activists, however, over the slow pace of land distribution.

Castriciones is running for senator under the slate of the administration-backed PDP-Laban, campaigning on issues of agrarian reform and advocacy for farmers and vowing to pass laws that would strengthen campaigns against corruption, illegal drugs, and insurgency.

Platform and Policy
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The candidate's top priorities if elected to office, tracked against previous promises and accomplishments, if any

Select a policy profile below to view more details
 
Agrarian reform; Advocacy of farmers
 
Political reform
 
Legislative agenda
 
Stand on economic reform
Related Policy Proposal:
  1. Strengthen economic recovery after COVID-19
  2. Efficient distribution of idle lands across the country to farmers
  3. Improve the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program to enhance support services of farmers
Previous Platform:
As agrarian reform secretary, recommended that the Office of the President pass Executive Order No. 75 for the redistribution of idle government land to farmers
Track Record / Accomplishment; Date:
  1. As agrarian reform secretary, he maintained a Zero Backlog Policy regarding agrarian reform cases
  2. DAR to Door Program to deliver land titles to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries during the COVID-19 pandemic
Deviation from Previous Platform:
Related Policy Proposal:
  1. Shift to parliamentary federalism form of government
  2. Strengthen the judiciary system through trial by jury
Previous Platform:
Track Record / Accomplishment; Date:
Deviation from Previous Platform:
Related Policy Proposal:
Pass laws to:
  1. Ban political dynasties
  2. Strengthen campaigns against corruption
  3. Strengthen campaigns against illegal drugs and rehabilitate drug users
  4. Create a Magna Carta for Barangays
  5. Strengthen international diplomacy in the concept of genuine nationalism
Previous Platform:
Encourages government employees or officials to cooperate with drive against corruption
Track Record / Accomplishment; Date:
  1. Established an Anti-Corruption Task Force as DAR secretary
  2. Oversaw establishment of drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation centers nationwide as interior and local government undersecretary and head of interdepartmental task force, 2016
Deviation from Previous Platform:
Related Policy Proposal:
Pass laws:
  1. Towards industrialization and establishment of a positive business atmosphere
  2. Establish a Department of Overseas Filipino Workers
Previous Platform:
Track Record / Accomplishment; Date:
Deviation from Previous Platform:
Major Accomplishments
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The candidate's top five accomplishments and contributions for the last 15 years or so


Public Office


Castriciones initially joined the Duterte administration as interior and local government undersecretary in 2016 but was forced to resign amid corruption allegations from anonymous subordinates. He is suing a Rappler journalist for libel over the alleged malicious imputations in his news reports that Castriciones and the two other undersecretaries received P100,000 salaries despite being on floating status, allegedly deliberately omitting to add that Castriciones was still the chairman of the bids and awards and grievance committees. Other news organizations had also reported on such complaints by subordinates.


He was then appointed agrarian reform secretary, mandated to lead the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and required to have at least five years of experience in land redistribution. Castriciones’ appointment was met with opposition by agrarian activists during the confirmation hearings when he admitted that his law practice involved acting as legal counsel for landlords and land tenants.


Castriciones oversaw administrative updates such as streamlining the legal procedures in the processing of land reform cases, including applications for land use conversion, with the DAR announcing on Feb. 18, 2020, that 100% of its pending cases had been resolved after the zero backlog program was launched in January 2019.


He also resolved pending appointments of DAR officials and employees arising from the DAR rationalization plan in 2013 and conflict between the DAR Employees Association and DAR administration.


Castriciones secured the president’s approval of Executive Order No. 75 in 2019 for the redistribution of idle government-owned lands to qualified beneficiaries without the need for amortization payments. Peasant rights activists, however, complain that Castriciones seems to be neglecting the distribution of private agricultural land, which compose 92% of DAR’s land acquisition and distribution balance.


Further, Castriciones claimed to have recorded the largest single-day land distribution on Dec. 29, 2018, involving 11,443 hectares of agricultural land to 6,424 farmers from 18 towns of North Cotabato, breaking Bukidnon’s previous record of more than 10,000 hectares distributed in September 1990. Upon questioning, DAR failed to provide data to support the claim of record-setting distribution, partly because there is no specific tabulation compiling DAR’s figures in single-day distributions since the start of CARP in 1972 to the present. According to a report by Rappler, disputed figures were not in the data provided by DAR as the page containing them is missing. The claim seems to have been based on estimates and recollections of regional office personnel.


In July 2019, the National Bureau of Investigation revealed that it was investigating Castriciones over an alleged P5 million payoff to exempt property from the CARP. The NBI report was forwarded to the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission. While denying the accusation, Castriciones admitted to the NBI probe and volunteered to undergo a lifestyle check by the PACC. Castriciones then set up a task force to investigate alleged anomalies in land conversion transactions.


By that time, he had earned the president’s ire over the slow land conversion and distribution process, including the 2,200 hectares of government land that Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said were available to former New People’s Army rebels. In October 2019, peasant group Task Force Mapalad also noted that the Duterte administration recorded the lowest land acquisition and distribution in its 1st three years compared to other administrations.

DAR to Door Program
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Delivered land titles to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) during the Covid-19 pandemic
Position/Date
Agrarian reform secretary, 2020 - 2021
Status
Project ongoing
Land redistribution
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Proposed and secured approval for enactment of Executive Order No. 75 in 2019 for the redistribution of idle government-owned lands to qualified beneficiaries
Position/Date
Agrarian reform secretary, 2019 - 2021
Status
All projects ongoing
Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Identification System
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Position/Date
Agrarian reform secretary, 2019 - 2021
Status
Project ongoing
Eliminated pending legal services backlog
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As of Feb. 18, 2020, claims to have achieved zero backlog of pending cases in DAR’s agrarian legal services
Position/Date
Agrarian reform secretary, 2019 - 2021
Status
Project ongoing
Achieved ISO 900:2015 certifications for at least 15 DAR offices
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Position/Date
Agrarian reform secretary, 2019 - 2021
Status
Project ongoing

Private Sector


Castriciones maintained a private legal practice for more than 23 years as a general practitioner, becoming senior founding partner of Castriciones Legal Consultancy, for which his children now practice law. He also taught law and wrote a number of books.

Author, Internal Revolutional Revolution: Political Vengeance and Societal Perdition
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Position/Date
Published in 2011
Status
Author, A Risen Catholic Christian Soldier
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Position/Date
Published in 1998
Status
Author, Philippine Military Academy Hazing Case: A General’s Son Dies
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Position/Date
Published in 1990
Status
Author, Sagutin Natin
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Position/Date
Published in 1994
Status
Actions and/or Proceedings
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Actions and/or proceedings pending against or resolved in courts or tribunals involving the candidate, based on publicly available information


Resolved Actions and/or Proceedings

Subject Matter Relevant Dates Accrued Liability Status
As a cadet, Castriciones was tried by a seven-man military court over the hazing death of fellow PMA Cadet, Andres Ramos due to traumatic shock Hazing death in November 1981 Sentenced to five years of hard labor in July 1982 Pardoned in 1986 by President Corazon Aquino
Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth
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Also known as SALN, this document is a declaration of one's personal finances. Philippine Law requires the SALN to be submitted by all public officials and employees to the Ombudsman. Public officials and employees may opt to voluntarily disclose their SALN to the public.

Assets
P8.7 million
Liabilities
P0.70 million
Net Worth
P8.0 million

* As of Dec. 31, 2020

Campaign Details
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Key details about the candidate's campaign

Campaign Manager:

Alliances and Endorsements:

Part of the senatorial slate of PDP-LBN

Party History:
PDP-LBN
2016-present
Major Donors
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Candidate's major donors and campaign funding sources

There is no publicly available information on this matter at this time. Requested information from the candidate was not provided.
Major Advocacies
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The candidate's top advocacies in the last 15 years or so

 
Land redistribution
 
Shift to jury system
Land redistribution
Facilitated and supported land redistribution to farmers as agrarian reform secretary

Position/Date: DAR Secretary, 2017-2021
Status:
Shift to jury system
Adoption of the jury system in the Philippines

Position/Date: Masteral thesis, 1998 and as a senatorial candidate, 2021-present
Status: Ongoing
Personal Details
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Basic information on the candidate's family, background and work experience

Name to appear on the ballot: CASTRICIONES, BRO JOHN
Full Name: Castriciones, John Rualo
Birthdate: Jan. 8, 1962 (60 years old on election day)
Birthplace: Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya
Residence:
Religion:
Languages Spoken: Filipino; English
Parents:
Siblings:
Marital Status: Married
Children:
Education:

●Master’s Degree in Comparative Government and International Law, Notre Dame University, 1998

●Bachelor’s of Law, San Beda College of Law and Arellano University Law School Philippine Military Academy, Maharlika Class, 1984

●Bachelor's Degree in Political Science, Trinity University of Asia (formerly Trinity College)

Work Experience:

●Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary, 2017 - 2021

●Undersecretary for Operations for the Department of the Interior and Local Government, 2016 - 2017

●Director for Investigation, Security and Law Enforcement Services of the Department of Transportation and Communication, 2009

●Founder, Castriciones Legal Consultancy

●Professor, Arellano University Law School