President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. dispelled fears of unabated selling of agrarian reform lands by beneficiary-farmers awarded by the national government during the signing of the New Agrarian Reform Emancipation Act at Kalayaan Hall, Malacañang Palace on Friday, July 7.
“The reason why farmers are selling land titles, because they have no capital to sustain inputs. They cannot loan. They have no source where to get seeds. They have no money to buy fertilizers, even pesticides. They have no money,” the President said.
Marcos said that his administration would expand technical support to agrarian reform awardees.
He added that farmers had been forced to sell their lands because they remained incapable of financing the purchase of agricultural inputs due to a lack of funds.
Marcos stressed that the administration had reviewed the prior experience of the agrarian reform program in the country.
“Giving of land titles to the farmers is insufficient without any technical and financial support. They cannot use the titles to cultivate their lands. Nothing will happen again (in the program). They will be indebted again, et cetera, et cetera,” Marcos said.
Under the new agrarian reform law, Marcos said the farmers would be assured assistance technical support services for them to sustain farmland needs.
“Now, included in this program will be continuous technical support to the beneficiaries in terms of loan. We are providing where they can outsource the needed seeds for planting, good price of fertilizer. We are doing all this for them to have better produce on their awarded land titles,” Marcos said.
Marcos reiterated that during his first State of the Nation Address, he promised to fulfill the Agrarian Reform Program to the farmers.
“I am here today to build on that promise because our beneficiaries deserve nothing less,” President Marcos said during his speech.
The New Agrarian Emancipation Act, or Republic Act (RA) No.11593, will benefit around 610,054 Filipino farmers tilling more than 1.7 million hectares of agrarian reform lands, making them debt-free from P57.65 billion of arrears.
Under the existing agrarian laws, the President said each agrarian reform beneficiary (ARB) has to pay the cost of land given to him in 30 years with 6 percent interest.
“It is time to emancipate form indebtedness. This is why on 13 September 2022, I signed Executive Order No. 4, imposing a one-year moratorium on the payment of amortization on agrarian debt by our beneficiaries,” Marcos said.
“Yet, I know that the government can and must do more to alleviate the plight of our agrarian reform beneficiaries,” he pointed out.
Marcos thanked the Congress for “heeding the call for social justice for our farmers.”
The law condones all unpaid amortizations, including interests and surcharges, for awarded lands under RA No. 6657, or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, and other agrarian reform laws. These shall be condoned, provided that these ARBs have been indebted to the government as of end of 2022.
The principal loans valued at P14.5 billion of the 263,622 ARBs, whose names and loan details were submitted by the Landbank of the Philippines to Congress, shall be condoned outright.
The condonation of the remaining P43.06 billion in loans of 346,432 ARBs would take effect upon submission of the details of indebtedness of ARBs by the LBP and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to Congress.
The government also would assume the obligation for the payment of just compensation to landowners under the Voluntary Land Transfer or Direct
Marcos said the payment schemes for the benefit of 10,201 ARBs with total payables of P206.25 million.
Marcos reiterated the need to further enable the sector through the provision of credit facilities, farm inputs and equipment, and market access, including farm-to-market roads.
“As President, I assure you, we will never stop providing our farmers with the support that they need to help make their farms more productive while also improving their lives and that of their families,” Marcos said.
Marcos also led on Friday the awarding of land titles to ARBs at the Heroes Hall in Malacañan Palace.