A federation of farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries welcomed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s pronouncement to distribute lands to farmers for free.
“We welcome the pronouncements made by the [Marcos Jr.] in setting the tone for making agrarian reform as part of the administration’s agenda in addressing poverty and food security issues in the country,” said Armando Jarilla, national coordinator of Task Force Mapalad (TFM).
In his first State of the Nation Address on Monday, Marcos said Congress should pass a law that will “emancipate the agrarian reform beneficiaries from the agrarian reform debt burden, thereby amending Section 26 of Republic Act 6657,” or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.
“Malaking kabawasan sa aming mga magsasaka na maibsan ng pasanin sa bayarin ng lupa,” said Teresita Tarlac, president of TFM. “Sana po ay madaliin na mapirmahan na ang Executive Order sa moratorium at maamyendahan and RA 6657,” she added.
TFM has been calling for the extension of the moratorium on land amortizations by agrarian reform beneficiaries after it lapsed on April 8, 2021, explaining that the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented farmers from working on their land continuously and efficiently, reducing their harvest and income in the process.
The farmers’ group has lobbied for the enactment of a law that will distribute newly-acquired land under the land acquisition and distribution program to beneficiaries for free.
Tarlac said the free distribution of private agricultural land under the government’s agrarian reform program “would be the biggest incentive for landless farmers to intensify cultivation, improve farm technology and even experiment with the three-season rice production system.”
“With ample support from the [Agrarian Reform and Agriculture departments] in the form of free seeds, irrigation service and reduced costs of fertilizer and pesticide, there will be no reason for farmers to double their efforts in the production of safe, nutritious and cheaper crops,” read a TFM statement on Wednesday, July 27.