Congress OKs bill condoning agrarian reform beneficiaries' debts

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 24 2023 05:19 AM

MANILA - Congress has approved a proposed law that condones debts and financial liabilities of some 654,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries worth over P58 billion. 

The Senate and House of Representatives ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill 1850 and House Bill 6336.

According to the report, both chambers adopted the Senate version as the working draft. Provisions concerned with the title of the proposed law, meanwhile, were adopted and modified from the House adaptation.

One of the bill's authors, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, said that the proposed New Agrarian Emancipation Act involves a total of 1.18 million hectares of awarded lands. 

"Now, finally, we can begin to correct the most fundamental flaw of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program – placing farmers in debt without adequate services to boost land productivity," Salceda said.

"CARP without adequate support services and with limited capital or entrepreneurship among farmer-beneficiaries is shown to have reduced agricultural productivity in CARP lands by as much as −34.1% compared to baseline. This has resulted in almost P418 billion in lost productivity for all CARP lands every year (for the 10.3 million hectares of CARP land)," he said.

"Condonation will result in productivity gains of between 28 to 38 percent for the land condoned, due to better land allocation and higher access to credit and support services. That will create gross value-added gains of as much as P54.02 billion a year for the agriculture sector. It will also unlock some P472 billion in credit for farmers, as well as boost the wealth of agrarian reform families by as much as P590 billion in total."

However, the ratified version does not contain the House provisions on free land distribution of agrarian reform lands moving forward, said Salceda.

"Because this is a Presidential pronouncement in the first State of the Nation Address, we aim to work on the matter when session resumes," he said.


Watch more News on iWantTFC