Marcos wants farmers beneficiaries debts condoned

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Marcos wants farmers beneficiaries debts condoned
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr delivers his first State of the Nation address at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on July 25, 2022.
Aaron Favila via AFP / pool

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday vowed to implement a one-year moratorium on farmers' land amortization and interest payments and pushed for a law condoning the debts of agrarian reform beneficiaries to enable them to increase their production.

Marcos, who temporarily leads the agriculture department, said agrarian reform should not only be about land acquisition, but also support services and distribution.

"To assist this, I intend to issue an executive order to impose a one-year moratorium on the payment of land amortization and interest payments. This is included in Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act," the president said in his first State of the Nation Address.

"A moratorium will give the farmers the ability to channel their resources in developing their farms, maximizing their capacity to produce, and propel the growth of our economy," he added.

Marcos said civil society organizations are supportive of the moratorium because it would unburden the farmers of their dues and be able to focus on improving farm productivity.

He also urged Congress to pass a law that would "emancipate the agrarian reform beneficiaries from the agrarian reform debt burden" and amend Section 26 of Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988.

"In this law, the loans of agrarian reform beneficiaries with unpaid amortization and interest shall be condoned," Marcos said.

The law aims to erase the unpaid debts of our farmers who are beneficiaries of agrarian reform. Agrarian reform beneficiaries who are still to receive their awarded land under the comprehensive agrarian reform program shall receive it without any obligation to pay any amortization," he added.

Marcos said the condoning of  existing agrarian reform loan would cover the amount of P58.125 billion, benefit around 654,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries and involve a total of 1.18 million hectares of awarded lands.

The president noted that Executive Order No. 75 issued in 2019 required all government agencies, bureaus, departments and instrumentalities to turn-over agricultural lands to qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries. He said the government has a total of 52,000 hectares of unused agricultural lands to be distributed to landless war veterans, landless surviving spouses and orphans of war veterans and landless retirees of the military and police.
Agricultural lands acquired under the program would be given to graduates of college degrees in agriculture who are landless, he added.

"The call of the times is for the infusion of fresh and new blood in the agricultural sector. We need a new breed of farmers equipped with modern agricultural technology able to engage in sustained scientific farming that will not only increase farm yields, but also resilience," Marcos said. 


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