President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has signed an executive order (EO) declaring a one-year moratorium on loan payments for agrarian reform beneficiaries, the Palace said Tuesday.
The one-year moratorium will write off P58.125 billion in loans and benefit about 654,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries and cover 1.18 million hectares of awarded lands.
“It is time to give back to the farmers,” the President said during the signing ceremony in Malacanang.
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said the executive order is in preparation for another fulfillment of the Marcos administration’s commitment, which is for Congress to pass a law that will condone the loans of agrarian reform beneficiaries with unpaid amortization and interest.
“We always think about the farmers’ welfare. The one-year moratorium and condonation of farmers’ loan payments will lead to the freedom of farmers from debts,” Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III said.
He also expressed willingness to work and cooperate with the House of Representatives in the amendment of Section 26 of Republic Act No (RA) 6657, or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988.
Section 26 of RA 6657 requires the ARBs who were awarded lands to payto the Land Bank of the Philippines in 30 annual amortizations at 6 percent interest per year.
The DAR said the moratorium on land amortization and interest payments aims to help unburden the agrarian reform beneficiaries from their debts, enabling them to use the money instead to develop their farms, maximizing their capacity to produce and propel the growth of the economy.
Executive Order 75, issued in 2019, directs all government agencies, bureaus, departments and instrumentalities to turn over agricultural lands to qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries.
Currently, the government has a total of 52,000 hectares of unused agricultural lands which will be distributed to landless war veterans, landless surviving spouses and orphans of war veterans, and landless retirees of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.
Graduates of college degrees in agriculture who are landless will also benefit from the agricultural lands acquired through EO 75.
Estrella on Tuesday led the delegation of 160 agency officials, farmer-beneficiaries, and advocates at Malacañang Palace to witness the signing of the executive order declaring a one-year moratorium on loan payments under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.