DAR lauds Bayanihan 2 provisions easing farmers’ loan burden

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has lauded the passage of the Bayanihan 2 law as one of its provisions "eases the financial burden imposed by law on the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs)."

DAR Secretary John Castriciones (DAR / MANILA BULLETIN)

Secretary John Castriciones described the Republic Act (RA) 11494 as "one of the strongest manifestations of support given by Congress to the second phase of agrarian reform" under the Duterte administration.

"It is one concrete benefit that shall be felt by the agrarian reform beneficiaries who stand in the frontlines in the current pandemic to ensure the continuous supply of agricultural products in the areas affected by the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease)," he said.

The DAR chief pointed out that the measure is most timely as the department is launching its projects to ensure the productivity of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program-awarded (CARP) lands, parcelization of collective certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs), and validation of the ARB national listing.

Castriciones also cited that the new law condones the interest payment and restructures the principal obligation of ARBs.

RA 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law previously imposed upon ARBs the obligation to pay for the agricultural lands awarded to them by annual amortizations for 30 years from the issuance of the CLOA at an interest rate of six percent per annum.

The principal obligation is restructured under the Bayanihan 2 Law. The six percent annual interest is condoned and all previous payments for interest are credited as principal payment.

This is an unprecedented move on the part of Congress since the passage of RA 6657 on June 15, 1988, Castriciones said.

Despite the fact that the Bayanihan Law is only in full force and effect until the next adjournment of the 18th Congress on December 19, 2020, DAR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Luis Meinrado Pañgulayan said the condonation of the six percent annual interest and the restructuring of the principal obligation of the ARBs become a permanent set of statutory benefits.

Castriciones said he will be convening the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council Executive Committee to guide the Department in the formulation of the implementing rules and regulations on easing the financial burden.