Marcos signs order to freeze land amortization, interest payments for farmers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 13) — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has signed an order imposing a year-long moratorium on payments of amortization and interest on loans of agrarian reform beneficiaries, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said on Tuesday.

The executive order covers the payments of amortization fees and loan interests for agricultural lands distributed by the government under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

The fruition of one of Marcos' promises during his first State of the Nation Address in July is seen to unburden the beneficiaries of their debts, giving them the freedom to use the money as capital to develop their farms instead, DAR Secretary Conrado Estrella III said.

The DAR chief said the signed order is in preparation for Congress to pass a law that will condone the loans of beneficiaries with unpaid amortization and interests.

“We always think about the farmers’ welfare. The one-year moratorium and condonation of farmers’ loan payment will lead to freedom of farmers from debts,” he said in a statement.

Marcos previously urged Congress to amend section 26 of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 to emancipate over 654,000 beneficiaries from agrarian reform debt burden of more than ₱58 billion.

Condone amortization by year-end

The signed order is only the beginning as the department aims to condone all farmers' amortization, including unpaid interests and other charges by the end of 2022, DAR Undersecretary Mylene Yap told CNN Philippines.

"This is seen as the introduction ng mas malaking tulong na ibibigay sa [to bigger aid to be given to] agrarian reform beneficiaries. The ultimate end is condoning all amortization. Take [the farmers] out of this debt," Yap said.

Yap added that DAR has already submitted a draft of the proposal to Congress and hopes it could be passed into law before the end of the year.

The undersecretary also said the condonation program, which could last for five years, will have a ₱58-billion budget.