A significant financial relief is in the offing for agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) saddled with loans that keep growing on account of interests, penalties and surcharges.
Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III cited the Senate’s approval of Senate Bill 1850, saying it echoes President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s commitment to emancipate the farmer beneficiaries from agrarian reform debt burden.
This after the Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill mandating the condonation of agricultural loans incurred by farmers over the acquisition of the land they till through the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.
The 23 senators unanimously approved the measure sponsored by Senator Cynthia Villar.
Villar earlier said the bill covers two types of loans acquired by the ARBs from the state-run Land Bank of the Philippines.
The first type involves ARBs who have Agrarian Reform Receivables Account with the Land Bank and have not paid or have incomplete payments of their amortization on the principal, interests, penalties, and surcharges of their lands under Presidential Decree 27, Republic Act 6657 and its subsequent amendments. This involves 409,206.91 hectares or debt amounting to P14.499 billion to be written off from the books of Land Bank
The other type covers Voluntary Land Transfer Scheme and Direct Payment Scheme as provided by RA 6657, which has 92,824 agrarian reform beneficiaries. The land area covers 178,063.95 hectares amounting to P119.61 million to be paid from Agrarian Reform Fund.
Villar’s bill also seeks to dismiss motu proprio all the cases related to the non-payment of agrarian reform beneficiaries with the Department of Agrarian Reform and that they will be exempted from the payment of estate taxes.
The bill reiterates the provision of RA 6657 that the land cannot be sold, transferred, or conveyed within 10 years except through hereditary succession or to the government or the Land Bank of the Philippines or to other qualified beneficiaries through the DAR from the issuance of the Certificate of Land Ownership Award.
Upon approval of the bill, future beneficiaries shall be awarded lands without any additional costs or financial obligations on their part.
Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and Research Office Luis Meinrado Pañgulayan said apart from Senator Cynthia Villar, the co-authors of the bill included Senators Joel Villanueva, Francis Escudero and Imee Marcos.
He added that Senators Nancy Binay, Christopher Lawrence Go, Ronald dela Rosa, Robin Padilla and Loren Legarda moved to co-author Senate Bill No. 1850 or the New Agrarian Emancipation Act.