Marcos to sign agrarian emancipation act today

President Marcos witnesses the ceremonial signing of the inter-governmental energy board circular on the joint award of petroleum service and coal operating contracts in the Bangsamoro region at Malacañang yesterday. STAR / File


MANILA, PHILIPPINES — President Marcos will sign into law today the New Agrarian Emancipation Act, which will officially condone at least P58 billion in arrears incurred by more than 600,000 farmer-beneficiaries from his late father’s land reform program under Presidential Decree 27, including agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of the late former president Corazon Aquino.

Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III said that Marcos will also lead the simultaneous nationwide distribution of at least 31,831 land titles to 23,699 agrarian reform beneficiaries after the signing of the New Agrarian Emancipation Act this morning at Malacañang.

According to Estrella, the New Emancipation Act condones all the debts incurred by ARBs, including unpaid amortizations, interest and surcharges.

Existing agrarian reform laws require ARBs to pay for the land awarded to them in annual installments with six percent interest for a maximum period of 30 years.

“By freeing farmers from the agrarian debt, and ensuring broader support services and credit facilities, the Marcos administration has given more resources to our farmers to increase the productivity of their farms and uplift the quality of their lives,” Estrella said.

Estrella said of the total land titles to be distributed today, 17,837 are electronic land titles (e-titles) under the Support to Parcelization of Lands for Individual Titling or Project SPLIT, benefiting 16,526 ARBs covering 23,248 hectares of land. The balance is 13,994 emancipation patents and certificates of land ownership award benefiting 12,945 ARBs covering 7,378 hectares of agricultural land.

Central Luzon and Calabarzon land title distribution will be held in Malacañang while the regional distribution will be conducted by the DAR regional officials and local government unit representatives in the Newtown Plaza Hotel in Baguio City for the Cordillera Administrative Region, Mariano Marcos State University in Batac, Ilocos Norte for Ilocos region, AKC Country Homes in Puerto Princesa City for the Mimaropa region, Fuerto Sports Complex in Pili, Camarines Sur for the Bicol region, Cadiz City Arena for Western Visayas, Uypitching Auditorium in Dumaguete City for Central Visayas, Leyte Progressive School in Tacloban City for Eastern Visayas, Cultural and Sport Center in Dipolog City for the Zamboanga peninsula, Limketkai Center Atrium in Cagayan de Oro City for Northern Mindanao, Arcadia Event Center in Matina, Davao City for Davao region, Sultan Kudarat Sports and Cultural Complex in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat for Soccsksargen, and Naliyagan Grounds Capitol, Agusan del Sur for Caraga.

Meanwhile, farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) yesterday welcomed the enactment of the New Agrarian Emancipation Act, saying it will provide relief to more than 600,000 farmers.

KMP chair Danilo Ramos said that condonation of land amortization is long overdue.

“It took the government 35 long years to recognize the sheer incapacity of farmers to pay for the land and realize that amortization is a counterproductive burden to ARBs,” Ramos said.

He added that based on the data from the Land Bank of the Philippines, only 17 percent of ARBs were able to pay the amortization of lands awarded to them.

“There is still much to be done beyond condonation, the most urgent of which is enacting a new and genuine agrarian reform program to replace the failed RA 6657 or the CARP. Ensuring a truly redistributive and free land distribution program will fulfill the genuine emancipation of farmers and ARBs,” Ramos added.

According to him, there are still more than seven million farmers and more than seven million hectares of agricultural lands not covered by the government’s agrarian reform program.