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PBBM’s best accomplishment for Year 1: Salceda says New Agrarian Emancipation Act will be hallmark of Marcos administration’s first year

July 5th, 2023

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) says that the New Agrarian Emancipation Act, which is set to be signed by the President in a ceremony on Friday, “is the best and the biggest accomplishment of the Marcos administration” in its first year.

“This will be the hallmark of the Marcos administration’s inaugural year in office. It’s historic in scale, in worldview, and in what it will bring to the people,” Salceda said.

“We often abuse the word “landmark” legislation a lot. But that is what this bill is. Landmark legislation. It corrects one of the first errors of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program – which was to tie down land. When, really, as owners of the land, farmers have a right to be able to use and, if necessary, convey it to the best users.”

“It’s also an important step towards rural and agrarian justice. More than 69% of poverty in this country is rural. The DAR’s purpose was to accelerate rural development. But because agrarian lands were tied down, in liens and due to the non-transferability restriction, they could not maximize output. It consigned rural areas to low economic activity. There was no way rural areas were going to catch up to urban areas in terms of development without first freeing up land – the most important factor of production.”

According to Salceda, “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 has resulted in almost P418 billion in lost productivity for all CARP lands every year (for the 10.3 million hectares of CARP land).

“Condonation of ARB debts could result in increase in productivity of between 23.8% (as the market can now allocate the land more efficiently) and 38.3% if productivity-enhancing interventions are increased (which the bill proposes) among the lands condoned,” Salceda said.

“Taken together, that is P629 billion more in economic output for the land condoned, assuming it remains used as just agricultural land. Of course, there will be more uses, including for renewable energy,”

The New Agrarian Emancipation Act will condone 58.125 billion pesos benefiting 654,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries and involving a total of 1.18 million hectares of awarded lands.

Salceda also introduced additional provisions such as an Estate Tax Amnesty until 2025 and exemption for estate taxes for transfers to legitimate heirs and successors, which were adopted into the upcoming law.

“That will also help expedite the productive use of the land. Frankly, I don’t know why we ever expected farmers without capital, networks, infrastructure, and economic power to succeed in tilling land. We should have done more to provide agrarian support. And we should not have tied them to the land,” Salceda said.

“So, this law, in every sense of the word, is emancipation. Emancipation of farmers from debt. Emancipation of rural areas from a destiny of poverty. Emancipation of land from perpetual idleness,” Salceda said.

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