New Agrarian Emancipation Act signed; P57.5-B debt of 610K farmers condoned
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday signed the New Agrarian Emancipation Act of 2023, condoning the P57.557 billion debt of 610,054 farmers.
The law specifically condones the unpaid amortization, interest, surcharge, and penalties of existing loans of farmers tilling more than 1 million hectares of land. The farmers are agrarian reform beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
“Sa ilalim ng mga batas agraryo, ang bawat magsasaka ay may utang na katumbas ng halaga ng lupang binigay sa kanila. Kailangan nilang bayaran ito sa loob ng hindi hihigit ng tatlumpung taon – dagdag ang anim na porsyentong interes – bago tuluyang maging kanila ang lupa. Panahon na para makalaya sila sa pagkakautang na ito,” Marcos said in a speech he delivered during the signing ceremony.
(Under the agrarian laws, each farmer owes a debt equal to the value of the land given to them. They had to pay it back for no more than 30 years – plus six percent interest – before the land becomes theirs. It is time for them to be freed from this debt.)
But for Marcos, efforts for equitable land distribution does not end here.
“Free land distribution must go hand-in-hand with broadening the provision of credit facilities and support services in the form of farm inputs, equipment, and facilities to our farmers, as well as the construction of more farm-to-market roads. These efforts will yield more sustainable farms and higher incomes for our farmers,” he also said.
Present during the signing ceremony were Senate President Miguel Zubiri, Senators Imee Marcos, Loren Legarda, Sherwin Gatchalian, and Loren Legarda, and members of the House of Representatives.
Cabinet members like Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa, Environment Secretary Antonia Loyzaga, and Agrarian Reform Chief Conrado Estrella III likewise attended the event.
Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Salceda, who was present during the signing, previously called the measure a hallmark of the Marcos Jr. administration’s first year.
In his first State of the Nation Address in 2022, Marcos identified the bill as a legislative priority.
The House of Representatives passed the measure in December 2022 with 245 votes. The Senate likewise unanimously approved the bill last March.