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AGRARIAN Reform (DAR) Secretary Conrado Estrella 3rd said improving the economic lives of the farmers is one of the priorities of the Marcos administration.

Estrella said true to the Chief Executive's word, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. will sign an executive order (EO) imposing a moratorium on payments of amortizations fees and interest loans of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) to support the intensified provision of support services and expedite the distribution of all idle government-owned lands.

He said the EO will be signed when Marcos turns 65 on Sept. 13, 2022 as part of his commitment during his first State of the Nation Address.

"I trust the wisdom of the President. The money of the ARBs that will be spent for their debts and other obligations will be used instead for other agricultural ventures. They can use that as additional capital for greater agricultural production," Estrella said during the agency's recent P15.85-billion budget proposal hearing for the year 2023.

Estrella reiterated Marcos' call for condoning the land amortization fees of the ARBs.

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"I have a continuous talk with the members of the House and the Senate, and I think they are going to support this measure as it is expected to benefit the ARBs nationwide," Estrella said.

He also said with the condonation, the ARBs would be free from their debts and their farmlands, being their personal asset, can be used as collateral or a negotiable instrument that is beneficial, especially to those who will only get a small portion of land.

Estrella said Marcos also supports the department's drive to intensify its provision of support services such as construction of more infrastructure facilities, providing farmers with farm machines, equipment and inputs, and giving them various capacity development training.

"Aside from these, we would also include the children of our ARBs in the coverage of the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education scholarship under the Commission on Higher Education. We would also provide our farmers with medical assistance through our partnership with the Department of Health," he said.

The DAR also aims to distribute all the remaining 256,121 hectares of idle government-owned lands, under Executive Order 75, Series of 2019, to the farmer beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

Estrella said under the Marcos leadership, the DAR, for the next six years, targets to achieve the following: 80 percent, or 743,800 ARBs empowered with enhanced productivity and family income, and become economically independent and active players; 85 percent, or 7,800 ARB organizations with stable business operations; and 80 percent, or 1,300 agrarian reform communities with improved business ecosystem and connectivity.