Marcos vows support services for agrarian reform beneficiaries
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Friday said the government will provide adequate support to agrarian reform beneficiaries and stop the practice of selling off their lands.
“As President, I assure you we will never stop providing our farmers with the support that they need to help make their farms more productive while also improving their lives and that of their families,” Marcos vowed.
Marcos pointed out that land distribution goes with support services like farm inputs, equipment and facilities, and the construction of farm-to-market roads.
“Ang nagiging dahilan kung bakit ang nabibigyan ng titulo ay ipinagbibili kaagad ‘yung lupa nila ay dahil wala silang pambayad ng inputs, hindi sila makautang, wala silang pagkukuhanan ng binhi, wala silang pagkukuhanan ng fertilizer, ng pesticide. Wala silang pambili,” the President said.
(Those awarded land titles sell the land off right away because they do not have enough funds to pay the inputs, cannot loan, and have nowhere to get seeds, fertilizer, and pesticides. They do not have money to buy them.)
Marcos explained that his administration studied how things work in other countries and found that simply giving people land is insufficient.
“Nakita nga namin pagka basta titulo lang ibinigay mo at wala ng ibang suporta, mangyayari talaga eh wala naman hindi naman nila maisaka, mangungutang na naman sila doon sa ‘yung dating may-ari. Tapos hindi makabayad,” the President added.
(We noticed that if you just give land without support, they cannot farm, they will take out loans from the previous owner but cannot settle their obligations later on.)
Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III pointed out that the agrarian reform beneficiaries are not allowed to sell their land for 10 years, in accordance with the law.
Debt relief for agrarian reform beneficiaries
Marcos on Friday signed the New Agrarian Emancipation Act of 2023, condoning the P57.557 billion debt of 610,054 farmers.
The law explicitly condones the unpaid amortization, interest, surcharge, and penalties of existing loans of farmers tilling nearly 1 million hectares of land. The farmers are agrarian reform beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp).
Asked if the debt emancipation was unfair to those who have already paid their dues, Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III said that the government still provides equivalent support to those who have settled their obligations.
“Palagay ko hindi naman magiging unfair sa pagkat mayroon ding linalaan ang pamahalaan ng ating Pangulo, ang administration ng ating mahal na pangulo, para sa mga prompt payers, yung mga maagap na magbayad, katulad ng mga mas madaming mga support services, natural na ibibigay natin sa kanila,” Estrella said.
(I think it will not be unfair because the government has allotted more support services to those who have settled their debts.