Marcos grants year-long moratorium on land amortization for farmers

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Philippine economy
In this undated file photo, farmer harvests the rice from the field.
The STAR / Andy G. Zapata Jr., File photo

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday approved a year-long moratorium on annual amortization and interest payments for lands distributed under the agrarian reform program in a move aimed at allowing farmers to focus on their productivity.

The moratorium, contained in an executive order (EO) signed by Marcos, would unburden farmers of their debts and allow them to use the money to maximize their production capacity, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said.

Malacañang has yet to release a copy of the EO, which was signed on the president's 65th birthday. It was one of the promises made by Marcos during his first state of the nation address (SONA).

Section 26 of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 requires program beneficiaries who were awarded lands to pay to the Land Bank of the Philippines in 30 annual amortizations at six percent interest per annum.

DAR Secretary Conrado Estrella III said the EO is in preparation for the fulfillment of another commitment of Marcos, which is for Congress to pass a law that would condone the loans of agrarian reform beneficiaries 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,” Estrella said in a statement.

The agrarian reform chief said he is willing to work with Congress in amending Section 26 of the agrarian reform law.

In his first SONA, Marcos said condoning existing agrarian reform loans would cover the amount of P58.125 billion, involve 1.18 million hectares of awarded lands, and benefit some 654,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries.

The president has said a moratorium on land amortization and interest payments would give the farmers the ability to channel their resources in developing their farms, maximizing their capacity to produce, and propelling economic growth.

He has also urged Congress to pass a law that would "emancipate the agrarian reform beneficiaries from the agrarian reform debt burden."

"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.

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