The Senate approved on second reading the proposed measure to condone the unpaid debt of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) of the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
Senator Cynthia Villar sponsored Senate Bill No. (SBN) 1850 or the “New Agrarian Emancipation Act”, which seeks to condone all loans including interests, penalties and surcharges, arising from the award of agricultural lands under the CARP.
Villar, who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food, and Agrarian Reform, said the measure shall cover two types of loans of the ARBs. These include loans of ARBs who have Agrarian Reform Receivables (ARR) Account with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and those who have not paid or have incomplete payments of their amortization on the principal, interests, penalties and surcharges of their lands under Presidential Decree 27, and subsequent amendments to Republic Act No. 6657.
Under the proposed law, the balances of unpaid obligations of ARBs to landowners shall be assumed by the LBP.
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) shall issue a certificate of condonation to be annotated on the ARB’s emancipation patent (EP) or certificate of land ownership award (CLOA), which is the equivalent of a land title.
“This involves 1,173,101.574 hectares of agricultural land with 57.557 billion principal debt which has 610,054 ARBs,” Villar said.
Villar said all cases related to the non-payment of loans of ARBs with the DAR shall be dismissed and that ARBs will be exempted from payment of estate taxes.
Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III fully supports the passage of the said legislation stating that this supports the president’s commitment to emancipate agrarian reform beneficiaries from agrarian reform debt burden.
Estrella noted that upon approval of the bill, future ARBs shall be awarded lands without any additional costs or financial obligations on their part.
Atty. Luis Meinrado C. Pañgulayan, Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and Research Office (PPRO) said aside from Villar, the co-authors of the bill include Senators and Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, Francis G. Escudero and Imee R. Marcos. Senators Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay, Christopher Lawrence T. Go, Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, Robinhood C. Padilla and Loren Legarda moved to co- author the said bill.
Pañgulayan said that the period for interpellation with Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Senator Risa Hontiveros is scheduled next week.