Press Release
February 8, 2023

Sponsorship Speech of Senator Cynthia Villar
On Committee Report No.24

(SB 1850-Condonation Bill)

Mr. President, my dear colleagues,

I rise today to sponsor Senate Bill No. 1850, under Committee Report No. 24 or the "New Agrarian Emancipation Act" which recommend the approval of the condonation all loans including interests, penalties and surcharges, due from such loans arising from the award of agriculture lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) as of December 31,2022, in substitution of

  • S.Nos.55 (Sen. Escudero);

  •  178 (Sen. Marcos);

  • 922 (Sen. Escudero);

  • 1112 (Sen. Marcos);

  • 1179 (Sen. Lapid);

  • 1405 (Sen. Revilla, Jr.);

  • 1476 (Sen. Villanueva);

  • 1660 (Sen. Marcos);

  • 1661 (Sen. Marcos);

  • 1662 ( Sen. Marcos); and

  • 1804 (Sen. Dela Rosa), taking into consideration House Bill No.6336.

More than half of the Philippines' 113 million people live in rural areas, and 36 per cent of them are poor, and dependent on agriculture as their primary and often only source of income.

Land Reform history:

Year President Laws
1961 - 1965 President Diosdado Macapagal RA 3844 or the Agricultural Land Reform Code
1965 -1986 President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. PD 2 Proclaiming the Entire Country as Land Reform Area
1986 - 1992 President Corazon Aquino RA 6657 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law
EO 229 s. 1987 or Providing the Mechanisms for the Implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program
Proclamation No. 131 Instituting a Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program
 1992 -1998 President Fidel Ramos RA 8532 An Act Strengthening Further the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program
1998 - 2001 President Joseph Estrada EO 290 s. 2000 Streamlining the Structure and Functions of the Department of Agrarian Reform and for Other Purposes
2001 - 2010 President Gloria Macapagal - Arroyo RA 9700 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms
2010 - 2016 President Benigno Aquino  
2016 - 2022 President Rodrigo Roa Duterte  

The PSA report also confirmed the glaring poverty gap between cities and rural areas. The Metro Manila region and urban centers have the lowest poverty incidence (13 per cent) which is higher among rural inhabitants (36 per cent).

Although the causes of poverty in rural areas vary, common issues include a decline in agricultural productivity, unprofitable smallholder farming operations and unsustainable practices. Rural areas lag in economic growth partly due to their lack of access to productive capital, financial services and to limited market access.

This emphasizes the need for urgent government action in this regard.

Thus the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program aims to improve the lives of small farmers by offering them land tenure security and support services. Many farmers who were beneficiaries of the Agrarian Reform Program have been waiting for their titles but they have been saddled by issues on how to pay their loans' annual amortization, interests, including penalties and surcharges, which hinder their full ownership over their land.

Without land in their name and these farmers cannot access credit as they lack collateral to secure the same.

This proposed measure seeks to emancipate ARBs from debt burden through the condonation of all unpaid principal and interests, including penalties or surcharges, from these loans.

This condonation bill shall cover two types of loans to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries:

1. ARBs that have Agrarian Reform Receivables (ARR) Account with the Land Bank and have not paid or have incomplete payments of their amortization on the principal, interests, penalties and surcharges of their lands under PD 27, RA 6657 and subsequent amendments to RA665. This involves 409,206.91 hectares of agricultural land with 273,622. Debt Amounting to: Php14,499,890,626.97 to be written off from the books of Land Bank and -

2. VLT/DPS or Voluntary Land Transfer Scheme and Direct Payment Scheme as Provided RA6657 (Section 20 and 21) for under which has 92,824 ARBs; Land Area: 178,063.95 hectares amounting P119.61M to be paid from: Agrarian Reform Fund.
TOTAL: P14.62B

Likewise all cases related to the non-payment of loans of ARBs with the DAR shall be dismissed motu proprio and that ARBs will be exempted from payment of Estate Taxes.

However, the 10 year prohibition in the bill is only a reiteration of the provision in RA6657 that the land shall not be sold, transferred or conveyed except through hereditary succession or to the government or to the Land Bank of the Philippines or to other qualified beneficiaries through the DAR from the issuance of the CLOA.

This bill seeks to help alleviate the plight of our ARBs who are farmers for them to recover and overcome the fallout of COVID-19 crisis, the devastating African swine fever, the on-going Avian Influenza, the increasing cost of fertilizer, fuel and other farm inputs and climate change.

Condoning their amortization will provide them the much-needed financial resources that shall help them develop their farms, increase their productivity and advance an agriculture driven economy, improve the lives and that of their families, reduce poverty, accelerate rural development and promote food security.

Thus, i urge for the passage of this measure.

Thank you very much.

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