The House of Representatives and the Senate separately ratified on Wednesday, the last session day before Congress adjourns for the Holy Week, the Bicameral Conference Committee Report on HB 6336 and SB 1850 — their respective versions of the proposed New Agrarian Emancipation Act.
Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, said the enactment of the New Agrarian Emancipation Act will be etched in history books as “the most important legislative accomplishment” of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos’ administration. The bill now awaits the President’s signature.
The Albay lawmaker and principal author of measure, noted that it took “nearly three decades and a President with a historic mandate to pass this long overdue measure,” referring to the 31 million Filipino voters who elected Marcos in the May 2022 polls.
The New Agrarian Emancipation Act condones P58.125 billion of debts involving a total of 1.18 million hectares of awarded lands, and will benefit 654,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries.
“I have been fighting for this measure since my first term in Congress. I fought for it again during my time under the Arroyo Cabinet. I fought for it under the past administration. And now, I feel vindicated that this three-decade effort has finally come to fruition,” Salceda said.
A veteran lawmaker and and respected economist, Salceda has authored various vital legislation such as RA 10931 also known as Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act; RA 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law or TRAIN; and RA 11534 or the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises or CREATE Law, among others.
“When President Marcos signs this measure, he also etches this law into what history books will later write of his administration. The New Agrarian Emancipation Act is the most important legislative accomplishment of the Marcos administration during the first session of his government’s first Congress,” he said.
“Now, finally, we can begin to correct the most fundamental flaw of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) – placing farmers in debt without adequate services to boost land productivity,” the lawmaker pointed out.
Under the new law — once enacted and implemented, the individual loans of beneficiaries — including penalties and surcharges accumulated under CARP — will be condoned and written off.
Salceda said CARP without adequate support services and with limited capital or entrepreneurship among farmer-beneficiaries is shown to have reduced agricultural productivity in CARP lands by as much as −34.1% compared to baseline. This translated to almost P418 billion in lost productivity for all the 10.3 million hectares of CARP lands every year.
According to Salceda, the condonation will result in productivity gains of between 28% to 38% for the lands condoned because of better land allocation and higher access to credit and support services.
“That will create gross value-added gains of as much as P54.02 billion a year for the agriculture sector. It will also unlock some P472 billion in credit for farmers, as well as boost the wealth of agrarian reform families by as much as P590 billion in total,” the economist-solon explained.
“The Estate Tax Amnesty for agrarian lands condoned is a personal initiative of mine, and it will enable farmers to finally transfer their lands to their heirs without estate tax penalties,” he said, adding that “we also mandated the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to encourage local government units to enact their own tax amnesties for agrarian lands.”
The ratified version, Salceda said, does not contain the House provisions on free land distribution of agrarian reform lands moving forward, but because this is a Presidential pronouncement in the first State of the Nation Address, we aim to work on the matter when session resumes.
“I thank the President, the House leadership under Speaker [Martin] Romualdez, Rep. Solomon Chungalao, and Secretary of Agrarian Reform Conrad Estrella, for their trust in allowing me to champion this measure,” he added.