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New Agrarian Reform law benefits 610,000 farmers

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday ordered the Department of Agrarian Reform to ensure the “smooth and immediate” enforcement of the New Agrarian Reform Emancipation Act.

The law condones all loans, including interests, penalties, and surcharges incurred by over 610,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs).

The President, who is celebrating his 66th birthday today (Wednesday), said that the issuance of the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations is the “best” birthday gift he has received, citing its impact on the development of the agriculture sector in the country.

Mr. Marcos also announced that he signed an Executive Order extending for two years EO No. 4, set to expire today, which provides for a moratorium on the payment of the principal obligation and interest on amortization payable by ARBs.

Speaker Martin Romualdez lauded the President for extending the agrarian debt moratorium and DAR for its early submission of the IRR.

“The extension of the moratorium on the payment of the amortization and principal on the debt of our agrarian reform beneficiaries is a demonstration of the commitment of the administration of President Marcos to their welfare and the growth of our agricultural sector,” Romualdez said.

“DAR’s early submission of the IRR is a significant step towards fulfilling the promise of the New Agrarian Emancipation Act to uplift the life of our farmers, revitalize our agricultural sector, and provide affordable food for every family,” he added.

The two-year extension of the agrarian debt moratorium will benefit some 129,059 ARBs whose land awards did not reach the cut-off on July 24, 2023 to qualify for the condonation of agrarian debt.

Mr. Marcos, who is also the concurrent Agriculture Secretary, said his birthday wish is for “a better agricultural sector in the country.

“I hope agriculture will improve and we will know what the weather is really like – is it the wet season or dry season – so that we can help our farmers,” he said.

FREEING FARMERS FROM DEBT. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (center) displays the implementing rules and regulations of RA 11953 and his signed Executive Order extending the moratorium on payments of amortizations on agrarian debt at the Department of Agrarian Reform office in Quezon City on Tuesday. Witnessing (from left) are Senator Cynthia Villar, Special Assistant to the President Anton Lagdameo, Speaker Martin Romualdez, Senator Imee Marcos, Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III, and Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin. Rey Baniquet

“So, I urge the DAR, with all government agencies, to strive for a smooth and immediate execution of this IRR so that our beneficiaries may be freed from the burden of debts and reap the benefits from the land that they tirelessly cultivate, continue to facilitate the delivery of support services to all ARBs and make them your foremost priority in all our development efforts,” the President added.

Under the new law, the condonation would cover at least 1.173 million hectares of land and an estimated P57.55 billion in unpaid amortization.

It would also terminate P206.25 million in unpaid just compensation by 10,201 ARBs tilling 11,531 hectares of land acquired through voluntary land transfer or the direct payment scheme.

A total of 610,054 ARBs would benefit from the new law, which Mr. Marcos signed on July 9, 2023.

“This will enable us and ARBs and the rest of our farmers to realize the utmost potential and reach for our aspirations for our families, for our communities, and for our country,” the President said.

For his part, Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte said: “The President has hit the gas on his landmark law that would truly liberate our ARBs from their CARP debts.”

He said the immediate implementation of the new law, which Villafuerte earlier described as a “defining moment” of the Marcos presidency, is “well-timed, given that it will lead to greater farm productivity at this period when weak harvests of palay and other farm crops have unduly jacked up the retail prices of these essential foodstuffs.”

These, in turn, “have caused headline inflation to rise anew in August following the government’s success in taming commodity price spikes over the January-July period.”

“The next step is aiding them [ARBs] by providing them with or giving them access to credit, technology, equipment, inputs, and other vital support services. Let us not leave them to fend for themselves,” he added.

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