On DAR budget hearing
Anakpawis urges free distribution of land, writing off amortization dues
Manila, Philippines – During the 2018 budget hearing for the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao urged for free distribution of land by writing off of amortization dues from agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs). The Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) serves as financial intermediary of the government for the implementation of the Republic Act No. 6657 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), particularly on the compensation of landowners and collecting of payments from ARBs.
“Amortization collected from ARBs are considered revenues of the national treasury, in this light, we urge the government, especially President Duterte to write off this dues, so as to realize a ‘de-facto’ free land distribution to benefit ARBs, under his administration, this would be a historical legacy for the president and DAR under the leadership of Ka Paeng Mariano,” Casilao said in a statement.
Initial data from the DAR said stated that as of December 31, 2017, amount to be paid by 912,766 ARBs or farmer-beneficiaries (FBs) for 1.558 million hectares reached to P59.91 billion, while among them booked as agrarian reform receivables (ARR) reached to P17.15 billion for 480,508 FBs on the 737,332 has. Hence, P42.75 billion for 821,101 has., involving 432,258 FBs is not yet booked as ARR. Among the ARR principal balance, P3.6 billion is considered as past due, with P311.1 million currently due, followed by not yet due of P8.8 billion, thus, totalling to P12.8 billion.
“Therefore, the Duterte administration could effortlessly and decisively condone the P3.6 billion overdue and current due receivables, while it is possible to entirely write off the total P12.8 billion, due after the president’s term, to mark it as a legacy in benefit of the poor farmers,” Casilao said.
During the budget hearing, Casilao also urged for the inclusion of the budget for land inventory to establish on whether ARBs are still on the lands awarded to them through Presidential Decree No. 27 and CARP.
Moreover, Casilao said, that to seal off the free land distribution program, the Duterte administration should act straightaway on its legislative agenda, as stated on its Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, particularly for a “Genuine and Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program” to “distribute for free or without amortization agricultural lands to landless farmers and agricultural workers.”
“We believe that in congress, there is only one legislative proposal pushing for free land distribution to farmers across the country and that is House Bill No. 555 Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill, by Anakpawis and the Makabayan Coalition, in this goal, we challenge the president for its support and enactment, for the benefit of the farmers and for rural development in the country,” Casilao ended. ###