Lawmakers urged to review agrarian reform to boost production

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 24 2023 03:14 PM | Updated as of May 24 2023 04:43 PM

A Talaandig woman tills land in Barangay Miarayon, Talakag town in Bukidnon on October 29, 2021. Froilan Gallardo, ABS-CBN News
A Talaandig woman tills land in Barangay Miarayon, Talakag town in Bukidnon on October 29, 2021. Froilan Gallardo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — An adviser in President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr's private advisory council on Wednesday urged lawmakers to review the agrarian reform to help small businesses and farmers. 

Joey Concepcion said if certificates of land ownership award (CLOA) would be given to farmers — many of whom have small businesses — they would have the power to sell it for agricultural use and make it productive.

Concepcion noted that some micro and small farmers have already stricken a deal with their "big brothers" in the industry where they get contracted to grow products for them but they can do more, he said. 

"My thinking together with the other big brothers is what if we recommend to Congress to really review the agrarian reform and to allow these CLOAs – the land that’s given to the farmers – that they can mortgage and they can sell it," Concepcion said in a public briefing. 

"But they can never change that the use will always be for agriculture. So the condition to this recommendation is that they be allowed to mortgage and sell but whoever buys it, can only use it for agriculture, so tuluy-tuloy pa rin siya," he added. 

With this in mind, Concepcion said more farmers could borrow money and build on the capital through this method. 

"Even the cooperatives, they can now buy these lands from these farmers who want to give up ‘no and just sell the property and move on ‘no. So I think, for as long as we maintain that these CLOAs can only be used for agri – allow them (farmers) to mortgage it, allow them to sell it," he said. 

This will also allow those "passionate" enough in the agriculture sector to boost their production, he said, as well as bring down the cost of commodities and get better yields. 

"We have to have special MSMEs who are producing the raw materials for these food ingredients as well, and that is the agri-sector," he said.

Concepcion said he already suggested this to Marcos during his meeting with him in Malacañang last week. 

"He didn’t give his firm commitment but I can see from his expression that he was at least open to the idea."

In late March, Congress approved the condonation of debts and financial liabilities of some 654,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries worth over P58 billion, one of the President's priorities when he stepped into office last year. 

Marcos in January instructed the Department of Agrarian Reform to expedite the distribution of certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs) to farmers.

He also vowed to proved support to help agrarian reform beneficiaries improve their living conditions, a Palace statement read.

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