Senate OKs bills condoning farmers’ debts, creating ARAL Program on 3rd reading
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate approved the third and final reading measures seeking the condonation of agrarian reform beneficiaries’ debts and creating the Academic Recovery and Accessible Learning (ARAL) Program.
During Monday’s plenary session, Senate Bill No. 1850, or the New Agrarian Emancipation Act, hurdled the third reading with 23 affirmative votes and no negative vote nor abstention.
Under the bill, the P57.557-billion principal debt of 610,054 agrarian reform beneficiaries would be condoned.
The bill noted that the recipients had tilled 1,173,101.57 hectares of agrarian reform lands.
Senator Cynthia Villar, the chairperson of the Senate committee on agriculture, food, and agrarian reform, sponsored the bill in the plenary.
Meanwhile, Senate Bill No. 1604, or the ARAL Program Act, was also approved by the upper chamber on the third reading with 22 affirmative votes and one negative vote.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III was the one who cast a negative vote. He told the plenary that he would submit a written explanation of his vote.
The bill was sponsored by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairperson of the Senate committee on basic education.
The bill aims to lay out a national learning intervention program grounded on systematic tutorial sessions, well-designed intervention plans and learning resources, and practical and accessible delivery modes for tutors and learners, among others.
The program will cover language, mathematics, science, and other essential learning competencies under the K to 12 curricula.
According to 2019 Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics, only 10 percent of students in the Philippines met the minimum reading standard, and 17 percent reached the minimum mathematical standard expected at the end of primary education.