News Release

Law absolves over 170K ARBs in W. Visayas from land indebtedness

ILOILO CITY – Around 170,096 Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) from Western Visayas are recipients of the newly-signed Republic Act No. 11953 or the New Agrarian Emancipation Act, one of the priority measures under the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

The law condones the principal payment, interests, and penalties.

“Last July 7, finally our President signed the New Agrarian Emancipation Act where our farmer-beneficiaries will become debt-free from the lands that were awarded to them,” said lawyer Sheila Enciso, DAR Regional Director for Western Visayas, in an interview on Monday.

Beneficiaries can already purchase farm inputs for higher production and pay for their household expenses using the amount supposedly intended for their amortization, she said.

Enciso said the bulk of beneficiaries came from Negros Occidental with 134,447.

Other farmer-beneficiaries were from Aklan with 641; Antique, 433; Capiz, 24, 194; Guimaras 2,298; and Iloilo, 8,083.

It covered around 209,865 hectares, with Negros Occidental having the biggest area at 68,469, while in other provinces, Aklan has 1,198; Antique, 605; Capiz,30,255; Guimaras, 3,428; and Iloilo with 5,910.

The new law covers ARBs whose land was awarded under Presidential Decree 27 or the Tenant Emancipation Decree in 1972, Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, and Republic Act 9700 that extends the acquisition and distribution of agricultural lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

DAR, Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), and other concerned agencies have 60 days to craft the Implementing Rules and Regulations, expected to be published by September.

There will also be an inventory to harmonize the data of the LBP and the DAR, she said.

The regional director hoped that beneficiaries will continue to hold on to their awarded lots even if under the law they can be disposed of after 10 years.

Enciso said the land is a very expensive commodity and since they acquired it at a lower price, they may hold onto it until they can pass it on to their children.

“We encourage our farmers to join cooperatives or form organizations because the full support services given by DAR and other government agencies are coursed through the organization,” she added.

Other support services are provided by the Department of Agriculture and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, among others.

Simultaneous with the signing of the new law by President Marcos on July 7, DAR Western Visayas held a mass distribution of Certificates of Land Ownership Awards to 4,850 land titles benefitting 2,542 farmer-beneficiaries covering 2, 452.2671 hectares of land in a ceremony held in Cadiz City in Negros Occidental. (PNA)