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Marcos declares moratorium on payments, interest for land reform beneficiaries

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said Monday he will issue an order  imposing a one-year moratorium on the payment of land amortization and interest payments to aid land reform beneficiaries.

"Ang agrarian reform program ay dapat magpatuloy (The agrarian reform program should continue). Agrarian reform is not only about acquisition, but also support services and distribution," Marcos said in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA).

"To assist this, I intend to issue an executive order to impose a one-year moratorium on the payment of land amortization and interest payments," he added.

The chief executive mentioned the inclusion of such provision under the Republic Act No. 11469 commonly known as the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act which was legislated to help the government address the COVID-19 situation and its effects to various sectors in the country.

"A moratorium will give the farmers the ability to channel their resources in developing their farms, maximizing their capacity to produce, and propel the growth of our economy," he said.

"The civil society organizations also support this because it will unburden the farmers of their dues and be able to focus on improving farm productivity," he noted.

Marcos also asked Congress to pass a law that will amend Section 26 of Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1998.

The President said this law will emancipate the agrarian reform beneficiaries from the debt burden.

"Layunin ng batas na ito na burahin ang hindi mabayarang utang ng ating mga magsasaka na benipisyaryo ng agrarian reform," he said.

Meanwhile, Marcos also said agrarian reform beneficiaries who have yet to receive their awarded land under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program will get it without any obligation to pay any amortization.

According to Marcos, the condonation of the existing agrarian reform loan will cover P58.125 billion.

This will benefit around 654,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries involving a total of 1.18 million hectares of awarded lands, he added.

Marcos said under Executive Order No. 75, Series of 2019, all government agencies, bureaus, departments, and instrumentalities are required to turn-over agricultural lands to qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries.

Currently, there is a total of 52,000 hectares of unused agricultural lands of the government which will now be distributed to landless war veterans, landless surviving spouses and orphans of war veterans, and landless retirees of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

Graduates of college degrees in agriculture who are landless will also benefit from the agricultural lands acquired through EO No. 75, Series of 2019.

Marcos' directive is in accordance with Section 40 of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.

"The call of the times is for the infusion of fresh and new blood in the agricultural sector," he said.

"We need a new breed of farmers equipped with modern agricultural technology able to engage in sustained scientific farming that will not only increase farm yields, but also resilience in the face of climate change," he added.—AOL, GMA News