Philippines, World Bank sign $370-M loan to speed up land distribution under agrarian reform program

Ian Nicolas Cigaral - Philstar.com
Philippines, World Bank sign $370-M loan to speed up land distribution under agrarian reform program
In this file photo, agrarian reform beneficiaries work on a farm in Leyte.
Philstar.com, file

MANILA, Philippines —The Philippines and World Bank last week signed a $370-million loan agreement meant to fast-track the distribution of about 1.4 million hectares of land to an estimated 750,000 farmers who are beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

In a statement on Monday, the Department of Finance said the loan deal for the Support to Parcelization of Lands for Individual Titling (SPLIT) Project of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) was signed on July 14.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the the project will help the economy recover from a coronavirus-led slump as it will make agrarian reform beneficiaries "more resilient" to the economic fallout from the pandemic.

“The SPLIT project will improve the bankability of farmers and enable them to access credit and government assistance," Dominguez said.

CARP, signed into law in 1988 by President Corazon Aquino, aims to distribute about 7.8 million hectares of land in a bid to narrow wealth gap and help reduce poverty.

The SPLIT Project carries a price tag of $473.56 million, of which $370 million will be funded by the World Bank while the balance of $103.56 million will be shouldered by the government. 

The loan agreement for the project will mature in 29 years, inclusive of a grace period of 10-and-a-half years. 

Under the project, the collective certificates of land ownership award (CCLOAs) will be parcelized into individual titles for some 750,000 beneficiaries to help fulfill the completion of the decades-old CARP.  

The government has redistributed about 4.8 million hectares of land to some 2.8 million beneficiaries under the agrarian reform program, but only 53% were in the form of individual land titles. 

The remaining 47% or about 2.5 million hectares are CCLOA titles that were issued to groups of beneficiaries in the 1990s as a temporary measure to fast-track the distribution of land to farmer-beneficiaries. 

The parcelization of the CCLOAs into individual titles has been very slow, which is why about 1.4 million hectares remain to be subdivided among farmers under the SPLIT project. — Ian Nicolas Cigaral

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