Along with Christian Monsod, one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, various farmers and advocates’ groups have welcomed the response of Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III on their policy proposals of a moratorium in the payment of monthly amortizations on lands placed under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and free land distribution.
Lanie Factor, deputy national coordinator of Task Force Mapalad, in an interview, told the Manila Standard that they have met with Estrella at the central office of the Department of Agrarian Reform in Quezon City, and have laid down their “demands” to suspend the amortization payment to enable the farmers recover from the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and to make land distribution free.
She said Estrella spent three to four hours with them, adding “he has really listened to us and has brought his complete team ready to answer all of our issues.”
“He likes the moratorium (proposal). He said he would work it out with the Land Bank (of the Philippines). He took with him all undersecretaries and even the assistant secretaries,” she said.
Moreover, she added, the DAR chief also backs the free land distribution both for private farm lots and government-owned lands through legislation or the amendment of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law as amended by the CARP Extension with Reforms.
Apart from Monsod, Task Force Mapalad was joined by leaders of
other peasant groups – Kaisahan, Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (Pakisama) and Repormang Agraryo at Katarungan Panlipunan (Katarungan).
Monsod is the legal adviser of the peasants’ groups, Factor said.
According to Factor, a long-time advocate of the farmers’ rights and welfare, the proposal for a free land distribution should be retroactive.
An incentive should be given to CARP beneficiaries who have already paid their monthly amortizations in full, while an amnesty program shall be applied to those who have yet to completely settle their unpaid amortizations, she cited.
She said Estrella’s response was a welcome development.
The way we see it, it was a positive one,” she stressed.