LANDBANK of the Philippines (LANDBANK) said it has allocated P5 billion for a new loan program to assist Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) in financing rice, corn, and high-value crop production, and the acquisition of small farm equipment.

The Accessible Funds for Delivery to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (AFFORD-ARBS) was presented by the state-owned bank during the distribution of certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs) to ARBs in Davao City on Friday.

LANDBANK turned over a total of 58,387 CLOAs, which covers 102,727 hectares of land, to DAR. These will be distributed to 60,233 ARBs from Regions 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13.

Also present were President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary John R. Castriciones. This is the second regional CLOAs distribution attended by Mr. Duterte, the first being in General Santos City in June. Some 6,679 hectares were distributed to 3,604 beneficiaries from Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, and Sarangani Province.

“As of end-May 2019, LANDBANK had fully turned-over to DAR a total of 208,895 CLOAs, covering a total of 354,783 hectares of land,” the bank said in a statement.

LANDBANK recently said that Mindanao will receive the biggest share of its loans.

Cecilia C. Borromeo, president and chief executive officer of LANDBANK, said that the bank is looking to increase lending to the agriculture sector by 20% by 2020.

Mr. Duterte warned in his State of the Nation Address last month that he might abolish LANDBANK foe allegedly neglecting its mandate to finance agricultural projects and endeavors, adding that the bank has preferred to engage in “many commercial transactions.”

The bank said that it is the only bank that has complied with the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act, or Republic Act 10000, which directs banks to allot at least 10% of their total loanable funds to ARBs ad 15% to farmers and fisherfolk. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang