(UPDATE) PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. signed Executive Order (EO) 4 on his 65th birthday imposing a one-year moratorium on land amortization and interest payments of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) for agricultural lands distributed under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella 3rd said.
“Today, his 65th birthday marks the fulfillment of another commitment made by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), that of emancipating the [ARBs] from their debts,” Estrella said.
Estrella led a delegation of 160 department officials, land reform beneficiaries and advocates in witnessing the signing of EO 4 in Malacañang also on Tuesday.
He said the moratorium would help unburden the ARBs from their debts, enabling them to use the money instead in developing their farms, maximizing their capacity to produce and propelling the growth of the economy.
Estrella added that the executive order is in preparation for another fulfillment of the commitment of the President, which is for Congress to pass a law that will condone the loans of ARBs with unpaid amortization and interests.
“We always think about the farmers' welfare. The one-year moratorium and condonation of farmers' loan payment will lead to freedom of farmers from debts,” he said.
Estrella vowed to work closely with Congress to ensure the amendment of Section 26 of the Republic Act (RA) 6657, or the “Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988.”
During the SONA of Marcos in July, he said condonation of the existing agrarian reform loan will cover the amount of P58.125 billion benefiting around 654,000 ARBs and involving a total of 1.18 million hectares of awarded lands.
Section 26 of RA 6657 requires the ARBs who were awarded lands to pay to the Land Bank of the Philippines in 30 annual amortizations at six percent interest per annum.
The proposed law will condone the loans of ARBs with unpaid amortization and interests and erase outstanding debts of the farmers who are beneficiaries of agrarian reform.
Agri party-list Rep. Wilbert Lee has already filed a bill seeking to free the ARBs from their unpaid land reform amortization and interests.
Marcos said the ARBs who are still to receive their awarded lands under the CARP shall receive them without obligation to pay any amortization.
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