MANILA – Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III said more than half a million agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) are expected to benefit from the one-year moratorium on payment of land amortization and the corresponding 6 percent annual interest.

Estrella said the suspension on payment of amortization and interest covers a combined 1.18 million hectares of agricultural lands awarded to 654,000 ARBs.

“This should be of great help to our beneficiaries because they can make use of the money intended for the payment of annual amortization and interest for farm inputs or other livelihood activities to augment their income,” Estrella said in a news release on Sunday.

Estrella said the one-year moratorium covers “the financial obligation to pay the total cost of the land and the six-percent interest under Presidential Decree No. 27, series of 1972 or the ‘Operation Land Transfer,’ as well as the principal value of the 30-year land amortization under Section 26 of the Republic Act No. 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.’”

President Ferdinand R. Marcos declared the moratorium on payment of amortization and interest in his speech during his first State of the Nation Address on July 25, 2022.

“It’s time to give back to the farmers,” Marcos was quoted as saying during the signing of Executive Order No. 4 last Sept. 13, 2022.

Marcos said a moratorium “will give the farmers the ability to channel their resources into developing their farms, maximizing their capacity to produce and propelling the growth of the economy."

CLOA awarding

In Negros Occidental, at least 86 farmers from the province became instant landowners after the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) distributed certificates of landownership award (CLOAs).

The undertaking is anchored to Estrella’s directive to empower all the farmers throughout the country.

About 13.39 hectares of agricultural lands from Enrique B. Magalona town were distributed to 36 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs), seven hectares from the town of Manapla to 15 ARBs and 17 hectares in Silay City distributed to 17 ARBs.

In her message, Western Visayas Regional Director Shiela Enciso said the CLOAs they receive serve as proof that they are now the owners of the land that they have been cultivating for years.

“Our personnel worked tireless days and nights verifying and identifying the rightful beneficiaries of these lands. You were selected as the rightful owners, because of your effort and passion to cultivate these lands. Now that it is yours, make it more productive,” she said.

Enciso added that the DAR would provide the ARBs with the necessary support they need to ensure their economic viability and productivity.

“Please remember your rights, roles, and responsibilities as new property owners. Refrain from engaging in leasehold agreements and continue cultivating the land instead so that it may help you improve your economic lives,” she said.

The DAR is mandated to acquire public and private agricultural landholdings to be distributed to tenants, farmers, farmworkers, and other tillers identified as qualified ARBs, in the form of CLOAs covering one contiguous tracts or several parcels of land cumulated up to a maximum of three hectares per ARB. (PNA)