PH, WB seal $370-M loan for land reform

Published July 20, 2020, 10:00 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

The Philippines and the World Bank signed a loan agreement to speed up the process of splitting and titling of the remaining land covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

In a statement, the Department of Finance (DOF) said yesterday that a $370-million loan deal was sealed last July 14 by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Achim Fock, who was then the World Bank’s Acting Country Director for Philippines.

According to the DOF, the loan, which is under the Parcelization of Lands for Individual Titling (SPLIT) project of the Department of Agrarian Reform, will hasten the process of splitting of about 1.4 million hectares under the CARP.

The loan will also speed up the release of individual titles to some 750,000 farmer-beneficiaries, the DOF said.

The SPLIT project will improve the bankability of farmers, Dominguez said, noting it will also enable them to access credit and government assistance, which will support their economic recovery from the coronavirus disease pandemic.

 “We truly appreciate the World Bank’s funding support for this initiative designed to make CARP beneficiaries far more productive members of the farm sector,” Dominguez said.

Fock, for his part, said the World Bank expects the project to encourage agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) “to invest in their property and adopt better technologies for greater productivity and higher incomes.”

Under the project, the collective certificate of land ownership awards (CCLOAs) will be parcelized into individual titles for some 750,000 ARBs to help fulfill the completion of the decades-old CARP.  

The government has redistributed about 4.8 million hectares of land to some 2.8 million ARBs under the agrarian reform program, but only 53 percent were in the form of individual land titles. 

The remaining 47 percent or about 2.5 million hectares are CCLOA titles that were issued to groups of ARBs in the 1990s as a temporary measure to fast-track the distribution of land to farmer-beneficiaries. 

The parcelization of the CCLOAs into individual titles has been very slow, which is why about 1.4 million hectares remain to be subdivided among farmers under the SPLIT project. 

 “Through the project, ARBs will be provided security of tenure by way of issuance of individual titles,” DOF said.

 “If ARBs or members of their family fall ill, clear and valid documentation of their property will allow them to mortgage their land, sell, or pass it on to their family members through inheritance,” the department added.

The total cost of the SPLIT Project is $473.56 million, of which $370 million will be funded by the World Bank, while the government will provide the counterpart financing for the balance of $103.56 million.

The loan agreement for the project carries a 29-year maturity period, inclusive of a grace period of 10-and-a-half years.