President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. today signed into law RA No. 11953 or the New Agrarian Emancipation Act, a priority legislation he asked Congress to pass in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 25, 2022.
“Congress must pass a law that will emancipate the agrarian reform beneficiaries from the agrarian debt burden,” Marcos said in his first SONA.
Agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) are farmers or farmworkers awarded lands under Presidential Decree No. 27, Republic Act No. 6657, as amended, and Republic Act No. 9700.
Existing agrarian reform laws require agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) to pay for the land awarded to them in annual installments with 6% interest for a maximum period of thirty (30) years.
RA No.11953 condones all the unpaid amortizations of the principal debt, including interest and surcharges, if any, incurred by ARBs.
A total of P 57.56 Billion of unpaid principal debt will be condoned to benefit 610,054 ARBs tilling 1.173 million hectares of land.
The government will also assume the obligation of 10,201 ARBs tilling 11, 531.24 hectares of land to pay the remaining balance of the direct compensation due the concerned landowners under the Voluntary Land Transfer (VLT) or the Direct Payment Scheme (DPS) amounting to P 206,247,776.41 Million.
Condonation frees the awarded lands from all mortgage liens in favor of the national government. The law also exempts ARBs from the payment of estate tax. Moreover, ARBs who fully paid their agrarian debt will be given priority of access to credit facilities and support services.
ARBs shall also be automatically included in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) of the Department of Agriculture (DA), thereby entitling them to all support services given to farmers by the DA and by other government agencies.
Agrarian Secretary Conrado M. Estrella III thanked the President and lauded Congress for the passage of the law.
“By freeing farmers from the agrarian debt, and ensuring broader support services and credit facilities, the Marcos administration has given more resources to our farmers to increase the productivity of their farms and uplift the quality of their lives,” Estrella said.