Amid the many challenges that farmers face today such as the pandemic, calamities, and rising cost of farm inputs, AGRI party-list Rep. Wilbert Lee proposed a bill which seeks to free Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) from their unpaid land reform loan amortization and interests.
Under House Bill No. 3490, all unpaid principal and interests, including penalties or surcharges, if any, due from loans used for land acquisition secured under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program will be condoned by the government, freeing all farmer-beneficiaries from their payment obligations.
“Through this measure, we authorize the cancellation of the obligations owed to the government by farmer-beneficiaries for parcels of land received by amending Section 26 of Republic Act (RA) 6657, or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988,” said Lee.
Apart from the rising prices of food and commodities, Lee said the agriculture sector has always been weighed down by low productivity and high production costs.
Farmers, especially ARBs, however, are unable to give due focus to these issues as their funds are tied up in loan repayments.
A study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) showed that despite the large subsidy given to ARBs in terms of amortization, the collection from ARBs is not encouraging, even in the context of cost recovery.
In the same report, it was shown that only 11 percent of Landbank’s Agrarian Reform Receivables (ARR) accounts have been fully paid but there is also a considerable number of accounts that are in default or not being settled.
“We need to empower and bolster the capacity of farmers to holistically address our food security woes. Their sacrifices in striving to provide food to every Filipino household have been sidetracked for decades and we owe them this move, rather than them owing the government,” Lee said.
“This measure is a much-needed intervention to benefit our farmers,” he added.