Philippines writes off debts for more than 600,000 farmers

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr on July 7 signed into law a reform measure that writes off about 1.04 billion USD of debts owed by more than 600,000 farmers to help them boost production.

The New Agrarian Emancipation Act freed the farmers tilling more than 1.7 million hectares of land from land-related arrears that they owed since 1988 but cannot pay.

Speaking at the ceremony, President Marcos said that this is a measure that the government rolls out to help farmers deal with this huge debt. He emphasised that this also shows the efforts and responsibility of the Philippine Government to the people.

He said the debt forgiveness would benefit 610,000 people. In addition, the government will spend an additional 206 million pesos (3.6 million USD) to compensate landowners who have transferred their properties to others.

In 1988, about 4.8 million hectares of land, or 16% of the country’s area – was allocated to 3 million farmers who did not own land. Amid the decline in the agricultural sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP, the Philippine Congress decided to adopt a new law as debts on 1.2 million hectares of allocated land have yet to be paid.

Since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr took office m last year, the island country has faced a shortage of agricultural products that have caused prices soaring, including onions and sugar. Meanwhile, the Philippines’ rice imports also increased sharply. President Marcos has underscored the priority of recovering the agricultural sector and making it a growth motivation for the Philippine economy./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency