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Over half a million local farmers benefit from New Agrarian Emancipation Act

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The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the New Agrarian Emancipation Act will be issued by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) within 60 days from the effectivity of the newly minted act.

The New Agrarian Emancipation Act of 2023, or Republic Act (RA) No. 11953, is the legislation that condones all the unpaid amortizations of the principal debt incurred by farmers, in effect erasing the P58-billion debt of more than 600,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs).

RA 11953 was signed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on July 7, 2023. It condones the P57.56-billion principal debt of 610,054 ARBs tilling a total of 1.17 million hectares of agrarian reform land.

The law frees ARBs from financial burden by condoning all their principal loans, unpaid amortizations and interests on agricultural lands awarded under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). The law also exempts ARBs from the payment of estate taxes.

ARBs are farmers or farmworkers who were granted lands under Presidential Decree No. 27, Republic Act (RA) No. 6657, as amended, and RA 9700, and who have outstanding loan balances.

PD 27 is the Tenant Emancipation Decree issued on Oct. 21, 1972. Meanwhile, RA 6657 is the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, while RA 9700 is the legislation extending the acquisition and distribution of agricultural lands under CARP.

Under existing agrarian laws, ARBs are required to pay for the lands awarded to them in annual amortization for a maximum of 30 years.

The government will also assume the obligation of 10,201 ARBs tilling 11,531 hectares of land to pay the remaining balance of the direct compensation due the concerned landowners amounting to P206.25 million.

Under the newly signed law, the ARBs will also be included in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture of the Department of Agriculture (DA). Their inclusion entitles them to all support services given to farmers by the DA and other government agencies.

Moreover, ARBs who have fully paid their agrarian debt will be given priority of access to credit facilities and support services.

The land awarded to ARBs will also be excluded from their gross estate for purposes of estate tax.

Local government units will likewise be encouraged to enact local tax amnesty on real property taxes and other transfer taxes of qualified ARBs, according to RA 11953.

DAR will issue Certificates of Condonation in favor of ARBs, which will be annotated on the Emancipation Patent (EP) or Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA).

When the condonation takes effect, the appropriate Registry of Deeds shall register the EP, CLOA, or any other applicable title, along with the annotation of the Notice of Condonation.

The law also stipulates the restitution of the agrarian reform award that was forfeited when the ARB failed to pay the 30-year amortization and interests.

Sixty days after the effectivity of RA 11953, DAR, in coordination with the Executive Committee of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council, will issue the IRR for the effective implementation of the new law.

The act takes effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.

The law is the fulfillment of Marcos’ call to Congress in his first State of the Nation Address in July 2022 to pass a law condoning farmers’ unpaid debt.

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