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‘Farmers are providers of our nation’s sustenance’

E CARTOON JUL 11, 2023.jpgFood security in our country has always relied upon the backbreaking toil of our farmers. Yet, throughout our history, protecting them has proven easier said than done. However, on July 7, 2023, a significant moment occurred in Malacañan as the President signed Republic Act 11953, also known as the New Agrarian Emancipation Bill. This historic legislation demonstrates this administration’s commitment to uplifting the lives of farmers who provide sustenance for our nation.

At its core, the New Agrarian Emancipation Bill seeks to liberate “farmer-beneficiaries of the government’s agrarian reform program from the shackles of debt.” The President himself affirmed that the beneficiaries “deserve nothing less.” Therefore, Republic Act 11953 “condones all loans, including interests, penalties, and surcharges incurred by agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) who have received land under Presidential Decree (PD) 27, RA 6657, and RA 9700.”

PD 27, issued on Oct. 21, 1972, by President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., is the Tenant Emancipation Decree. RA 6657 represents the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, while RA 9700 is the legislation extending the acquisition and distribution of agricultural lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“It is time to give our farmers the recognition that they deserve as the providers of our nation’s sustenance, the providers of life to all Filipinos,” Marcos said. “Let us work together to realize this dream, our dream, as it was my father’s dream to give every Filipino farmer and his or her family, a life beyond mere survival, a life free from hunger or fear of the future.”
While land distribution is crucial, Marcos emphasized that genuine agrarian emancipation encompasses more than just the allocation of land. He stressed the need to expand credit facilities and support services for farmers, recognizing that such efforts would yield sustainable farms and higher incomes. “As your President, I assure you we will never stop providing our farmers with the support that they need to make their farms more productive while also improving their lives and the lives of their families,” he said.

According to a statement from Malacañang, RA 11953 will cover “₱57.56 billion in agrarian arrears, benefiting 610,054 ARBs, who are tilling a total of 1,173,101.57 hectares of awarded land.” It also added that the New Agrarian Emancipation Act is the “fulfillment of Marcos’ call on Congress during his first State of the Nation Address in July 2022 to pass a law condoning the farmers’ unpaid debt.”

Secretary Conrado Estrella III of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) commended the President, affirming his significant contributions to the country during his initial year in office. Notably, Estrella’s grandfather, Conrado Estrella Sr., served as the minister of DAR during the ’70s and ’80s.

Lawmakers, too, lauded the President, recognizing the New Agrarian Emancipation Act as a means to “break the generational shackles of indebtedness endured by our farmers.” Senators collectively applauded the passage of RA 11953, with Sen. Imee Marcos stating, “The patrimony of our nation not only lies in the richness of our soil but in the freedom and fullness of those who toil for it.”

May this landmark legislation serve as a catalyst for further rural economic development, propelling the modernization of our agricultural sector. Moreover, may it stand as a testament to our concern, respect, and empathy for our farmers; for without them, where will we find the food to serve on our table?


Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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