The House of Representatives unanimously approved on Wednesday the “Agrarian and Agricultural Loan Restructuring and Condonation Act.”

House Bill 5083, which seeks to “release farmers, fisherfolk, and agrarian reform beneficiaries from the bondage of debt,” got the vote of all 209 members present during the session.

The bill gives access to government and commercial credit facilities by granting pardon to unpaid interests, penalties, and surcharges on beneficiaries’ existing loans secured through government lending programs.

New loans may be used for the “acquisition of work animals, farm equipment and machinery, seeds, fertilizers, poultry, livestock, feeds construction, acquisition, and repair of agricultural facilities.”

The bill’s beneficiaries are “farmers who were granted lands under Presidential Decree No. 27, known as the ‘Emancipation of Tenants and Transfer of Ownership of Land Act’ and Republic Act No. 6657, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, as amended, and other existing agrarian reform laws.”

Loans can be obtained from either the Department of Agrarian Reform, the Department of Agriculture, the People’s Credit and Finance Corp. (PCFC), the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), the National Food Authority, and the Quedan and Rural Credit Guarantee Corp. (Jojo Mangahis)