Press Release
July 8, 2023


Senator Chiz Escudero on Saturday lauded President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. for the expeditious signing of the New Agrarian Emancipation Law, which frees over 600,000 farmer-beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) from debts tied to land reform sponsored by the state.

The President signed Republic Act 11953, which in effect wiped out some P58 billion in land reform debts, in Malacañang on Friday.

Escudero, principal author of the bill in the Senate, said RA 11953 will provide financial relief to thousands of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) who are struggling to make ends meet, "let alone pay the amortization, interests, penalties and other surcharges on lands they have acquired under the CARP."

He added that the newly enacted law will likewise provide administrative relief to agencies mandated with the formidable task of extracting payment from these poor farmers.

"Makakahinga na ng maluwag ang nasa 610,054 agrarian reform farmer-beneficiaries ngayong ganap na batas na ang ating panukala. Nagpapasalamat tayo kay Pangulong Marcos at sa ating mga kasamahan sa Kongreso upang maipasa at malagdaan ito ng Pangulo sa lalong madaling panahon," Escudero pointed out. "Malaking tulong ito sa ating mga magsasakang kabahagi ng CARP."

"The measure aims to accomplish more objectives of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, which now includes improving the lives of farmers, reducing rural poverty and accelerating rural development," he added.

RA 11953 condones all the unpaid amortizations of the principal debt, including interests and surcharges, if any, incurred by the ARBs. A total of P57.56 billion unpaid principal debt will be condoned to benefit 610,054 ARBs tilling 1.173 million hectares of land.

The government will also assume the obligation of some 10,201 ARBs tilling 11,531.24 hectares of land to pay the remaining balance of the direct compensation due to the concerned landowners under the Voluntary Land Transfer or the Direct Payment Scheme amounting to P206,247,776.41.

Condonation frees the awarded lands from all mortgage liens in favor of the national government. The law also exempts ARBs from the payment of estate taxes.

Moreover, ARBs who fully paid their agrarian debt, will be given priority of access to credit facilities and support services and shall also be automatically included in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture or RSBSA of the Department of Agriculture, thereby entitling them to all support services given to farmers by the department and other government agencies.

The Bicolano senator on July 28, 2022 filed SB 922, his original proposal. It was later harmonized with similar bills filed by other senators during the committee hearings. In March this year, the consolidated version that is SB 1850 was approved on third and final reading at the plenary.

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