THE DEPARTMENT of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said it will lead the nationwide distribution of land titles to 32,441 beneficiaries on Friday alongside the signing of a new law that condones farmersdebts.

In a statement on Thursday, the DAR said the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) will receive their titles as President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. signs the New Agrarian Emancipation Act (NAEA) in Malacañang.

The New Agrarian Emancipation Act is the fulfillment of the promise made by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., during his first State of the Nation Address last July 2022, where he asked Congress to pass the law condoning the debt burden incurred by farmers from land awarded to them under Presidential Decree No. 27, Republic Act No. 6657 and Republic Act No. 9700,the DAR said.

The House of Representatives passed House Bill No. 6336, its version of the measure, in December while the Senate approved Senate Bill No. 1850 in March.

The loans to be condoned include unpaid amortization, interest payments, surcharges, and penalties of existing loans of ARBs secured under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program or other agrarian reform programs or laws.

The DAR said that about 610,054 ARBS are set to benefit from the new law.

The government will assume the obligation of 10,201 ARBs tilling 11,531.24 hectares of land and pay the remaining balance of the direct compensation due the landowners under the voluntary land transfer or the direct payment scheme amounting to over P206 million.

Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado M. Estrella III reported to the Palace that the department has distributed a total of 16,445 electronic titles covering an area of 22,656.124 hectares to 15,481 ARBs.

It also gave a total of 23,009 emancipation patents and certificate of land ownership award to 25,374 ARBs.

Farmersgroup Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas chairperson Danilo H. Ramos said that the condonation of land amortization is long overdue.

It took the government 35 long years to recognize the sheer incapacity of farmers to pay for the land and realize that amortization is a counterproductive burden to ARBs,he said in a statement on Thursday.

At the same time, Mr. Ramos pointed out the additional support services and subsidies that were omittedin the new land reform law.

What must follow NAEA is a new law allowing further coverage of farmers and lands for free distribution, break-up land monopoly, and provide intensive support and subsidies to farmers, among others,said Mr. Ramos. Sheldeen Joy Talavera