The Magsasaka party list continues to push for the passage of a bill to reverse the debt burden and write-offs accrued by land reform beneficiaries (ARB).
“Excusing the debts of land reform beneficiaries now will not only be a good step in the pursuit of social justice, but it will also stimulate economic growth in which the country’s agricultural sector will be at the forefront”, said Robert Nazal, Rep. of Magsasaka Party-list.
Nazal vowed that once his internal party list dispute was settled, he would push for approval of the measure. He was referring to the Supreme Court (SC) issuing a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) upon his election as a member of the House.
“Beneficiary farmers will be given a fresh start and be freed from the bondage the law really wanted them to be freed from,” he said.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said in his first State of the Nation (SONA) address that his administration would push for a one-year moratorium on ARB debt.
Marcos estimated that the concession would cover about “58.125 billion pesos benefiting about ARB 654,000 and involving a total of 1.18 million hectares of allocated land”.
Nazal pointed out that the government has difficulties in recovering the loans granted to the ARBs, hence the need to forgive the said debts.
“However, despite the noble intentions, the government currently has a staggering collection deficit of previous loans on land and credit secured by land reform beneficiaries…that being said, it should be noted that the failure of the collection stems not only from the lack of effective collection administration, but also the inability of beneficiary farmers to assume the loans in the first place, let alone compound interest, penalties or surcharges,” he said. declared.
In his statement, he cited data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) which revealed that lending by Philippine banks to the agricultural and agrarian sector increased by 19.3%, from 713.6 billion pesos in 2020 to 851.76 billion pesos in 2022.
“In short, prolonging the burden on farmer-beneficiaries does not benefit anyone. Current interest unduly increases debt, but debt remains just debt. The government cannot afford the collection fee,” Nazal concluded.
Last September, the House of Representatives Committee on Land Reform formed a Technical Task Force (TWG) to consolidate several House bills that seek the cancellation of the ARB debt.
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