DAR Secretary Conrado M. Estrella III expressed his gratitude to the Senate for the swift approval of the DAR’s proposed P9.3B budget for 2024 on Wednesday, November 15, 2023.
“We are immensely encouraged to do more and better because of the overwhelming support given to the DAR by our Senators as shown by their approval of our budget in record time -12 minutes from the start of the plenary deliberation with Senator Cynthia Villar, Chairperson of the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Agrarian Reform as sponsor,” Estrella said.
Senator Villar said that DAR’s 2024 proposed budget of P9.393 billion will ensure acceleration of the implementation of the Department’s three program thrusts- land distribution, primarily the parcelization of lands covered by collective CLOAs and facilitate issuance of individual land titles, agrarian justice delivery, and the systematic provision of support services to agrarian reform beneficiaries.
Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel congratulated Sec. Estrella for the stellar accomplishments of the DAR in 2023 that include working for the passage of the New Agrarian Emancipation Act (RA 11953) which condones all agrarian debt, complemented by the grant of a moratorium on all payments of amortizations on agrarian debt for farmers that were issued land titles after the effectivity of RA 11953. He also lauded the 1.872% increase in the number of individual land titles issued under Project SPLIT, and the 200% increase in the number of land titles issued under the regular land distribution program under Estrella’s stewardship of the DAR.
Assured of the certainty that condonation certificates will be issued beginning January next year to kick off the full implementation of RA. 11953, Pimentel expressed his support for the immediate approval of the DAR’s proposed 2024 budget.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri noted that the Senate’s approval of the DARs 2024 proposed budget is one of the fastest approvals made by the Senate in its budget deliberations this week.
Estrella announced that the DAR is poised to distribute 20,000 more land titles before end-2023, and will target the distribution of the first batch of 200,000 certificates of debt condonation in the first quarter of 2024. A revitalized National Agrarian Youth Scholarship Program toward a new generation of farmers able to engage in modern agriculture technology will also be launched as a pillar of the modern agricultural communities and organized settlements program of the department.