Press Releases

Statement on the passage of the New Agrarian Emancipation Act

March 23rd, 2023

Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda
Principal Author and Sponsor

The New Agrarian Emancipation Act condones 58.125 billion pesos of debts benefiting 654,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries and involving a total of 1.18 million hectares of awarded lands. I have been fighting for this measure since my first term in Congress. I fought for it again during my time in the Arroyo Cabinet. I fought for it under the past administration. And now, I feel vindicated that this three-decade effort has finally come to fruition.

When President Marcos signs this measure, he also etches this law into what history books will later write of his administration. The New Agrarian Emancipation Act is the most important legislative accomplishment of the Marcos administration during the first session of his government’s first Congress. It has taken nearly three decades and a President with a historic mandate to pass this long overdue measure. Now, finally, we can begin to correct the most fundamental flaw of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program – placing farmers in debt without adequate services to boost land productivity.

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 will result in productivity gains of between 28 to 38 percent for the land condoned, due to better land allocation and higher access to credit and support services. That will create gross value-added gains of as much as P54.02 billion a year for the agriculture sector. It will also unlock some P472 billion in credit for farmers, as well as boost the wealth of agrarian reform families by as much as P590 billion in total.

The Estate Tax Amnesty for agrarian lands condoned is a personal initiative of mine, and it will enable farmers to finally transfer their lands to their heirs without estate tax penalties. We also mandated the DILG to encourage local government units to enact their own tax amnesties for agrarian lands.

The ratified version does not contain the House provisions on free land distribution of agrarian reform lands moving forward, but because this is a Presidential pronouncement in the first State of the Nation Address, we aim to work on the matter when session resumes.

I thank the President, the House leadership under Speaker Romualdez, my chairman, Rep. Solomon Chungalao, and the Secretary of Agrarian Reform, Secretary Conrad Estrella, for their trust in allowing me to champion this measure.

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