Bianca Lim

With agricultural reform at the forefront of President and Agriculture Secretary Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) and a group of farmers protesting in front of the Department of Agriculture (DA) six days before the next, it is hard not to ask: After a whole year, have the seeds of Mr. President’s profuse SONA promises grown… or withered?


“Magbibigay tayo ng pautang, habang mas ilalapit natin sa sektor ng agrikultura ang hindi gaanong mahal na farm inputs na bibilhin na ng bulto ng gobyerno.

Kabilang dito ang abono, pestisidyo, mga punla, feeds, fuel subsidy at ayuda para sa mga karapat-dapat na benipisyaryo.”


  • According to the Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Credit Policy Council (DA-ACPC), their programs—which were implemented even before the Marcos Administration—have loaned a total of Php 2,891,534,267.00 from January 2022 to March 2023 to 64, 882 farmers and fisherfolks.
  • The DA has also secured a 600-million-dollar loan from the World Bank in its Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) Scale-Up which will support agriculture and fishery from production to marketing such as through the provision of enterprise grants for farmers and fisherfolks.
  • A total of 8.05 billion pesos worth of subsidies from the Rice Tariffication Law’s excess revenues have also been given to around 1.5 million farmers, according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) last August 2022.
  • Around 782 million pesos worth of urea fertilizer has also been acquired last June which will soon be given to Filipino farmers according to the president’s statement during the turnover ceremony.


“Ipaprayoridad natin ang modernisasyon ng mga sakahan sa pamamagitan ng mga makabagong teknolohiya para sa ating mga magsasaka. Ating palalawakin ang mga palaisdaan, babuyan at manukan. Lahat ng ito, gagamitan ng siyensya para tumaas ang produksyong agrikultural.”


While some progress has been made towards the fulfillment of this promise, most of the government’s efforts are still intangible such as the approval of the Masagana rice road map, a partnership between the DA and the Korea Agricultural Machinery Industry Cooperative (KAMICO), and the instruction to intensify the execution of the plan to modernize the coconut industry, along with several restatements of the president’s commitment to agricultural modernization. Seeing as the steps taken are mostly abstract, there is still a need to formulate a nexus of plans that details the future steps of the government toward achieving holistic and inclusive modernization of the agricultural sector. 


“Gagawa tayo ng national network ng farm-to-market roads upang mas mabilis na mailakbay ng mga magsasaka ang kanilang mga produkto sa mga pamilihan.”


  • Marcos signed the joint administrative order (JAO) No. 1 Series of 2023 last February 2023 which synthesizes the creation of farm-to-market roads and the Farm-to-Market Road Network Plan at the national and local levels.
  • The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has also stated that around 75 km of farm-to-market roads have been built from July to November 2022.


“At gagawa tayo ng mga paraan upang maramdaman ng mga mamimili ang pagluluwag ng presyo ng mga produktong pagkain sa kayang halaga, gaya ng muling pagbubuhay ng mga Kadiwa Centers.”


  • The Department of Agriculture-Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance (DA-AMAS) has stated that more than 1.82 million households were catered to by the Kadiwa Program last 2022 with its 215 Kadiwa Stores, 60 Kadiwa Pop-up Stores, and 23 Kadiwa on Wheels.
  • This July, Marcos also attended the signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) which calls for the establishment of Kadiwa Centers (now called KADIWA ng Pangulo [KNP]) in Local Government Units (LGUs).

With Kadiwa Centers selling goods at a lower price, this promise should have been marked as fulfilled; however, this bandaid yet ‘hyped’ approach which De La Salle University (DLSU) Department of Political Science and Development Studies Assistant Lecturer Cleve Arguelles described to be “pockets of relief rather than a national targeted effort to help ordinary Filipinos cope with these global challenges [such as inflation]” surely is not a solution. 

The lower prices in these centers are rather a facade hiding the real state of the economy that is felt by millions of Filipinos, as is evident in inflation still being the top concern of the netizens after Rappler had surveyed users on social media. To illustrate this further, former economics professor Solita Winnie Monsod also expressed her concerns when she emphasized in her blog how the onions that the government sold at 170 pesos per kilo in these centers will theoretically only reach at most 261,000 families out of 25 million families in the Philippines.


“To assist this, I intend to issue an executive order to impose a one-year moratorium on the payment of land amortization and interest payments.”


  • The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has stated that Marcos signed Executive Order (EO) No. 4 last September 2022, which directs the implementation of the one-year moratorium on the payment of principle values—or the amount being paid without interest —and the annual interest due and payable by the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) when land is awarded to them under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).


“Congress must also pass a law that will emancipate the agrarian reform beneficiaries from the agrarian reform debt burden, thereby amending Section 26 of Republic Act 6657.

In this law, the loans of agrarian reform beneficiaries with unpaid amortization and interest shall be condoned. “

At present, we have a total of 52,000 hectares of unused agricultural lands of the government which shall now be used for distribution to the following sectors in accordance with Section 40 of the Republic Act No. 6657, as amended, thus:
  • Landless war veterans
  • Landless surviving spouse and orphans of war veterans
  • Landless retirees of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP)

Agricultural lands acquired under this program will be given to graduates of college degrees in agriculture who are landless.”


  • Last July 7, Marcos signed the New Agrarian Emancipation Bill into law under Republic Act (RA) 11953, which condones all loans of ARBs from land given to them under these legislations: (1) Presidential Decree (PD) 27; (2) RA 6657, and; (3) RA 9700.
  • From this law, 610,054 ARBs will be condoned of 57,557 billion pesos worth of loans.
  • Last September 2022, Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III stated that the inventory of idle government-owned lands (GOLs) is being accelerated for distribution to the beneficiaries under RA 6657.

However, to this date, records on the actual distribution of these idle lands to landless war veterans, surviving spouses and orphans of war veterans,  landless retirees of the AFP and PNP, and college graduates with degrees in agriculture are not yet available to the public. 


“As I am here today addressing the legislature, allow me now to propose legislation that we would like you to pass in support of these programs:
14. National Land Use Act”


Seven promises—half of which are either fulfilled or mostly fulfilled and the other half in progress show that the president has more or less held himself accountable for last year’s SONA promises. However, it is imperative to look through a lens that is not bounded by such promises and to assess where the country is now.

Indeed, economic growth is evident in the high gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6.4% in the first quarter of 2023, placing the country as one of the fastest-growing economies in the region. However, the recent skyrocketing of onion prices also mirrors the country’s feat of achieving the highest inflation rate after 14 years with 8.7 last January. Couple this with the issue of rushed sugar imports rooted in what the investigation found to be a ‘miscommunication’. Lastly, as the country’s debt climbs up to 13.86 trillion pesos as of March, only time will tell if the approval questionable Maharlika Wealth Fund (MWF) amidst the lack of government surpluses will accelerate or lead to the downfall of the country’s economy—a risk we cannot afford today in all sectors. 

In the middle of both illusions and solutions, the presented issues at hand are much awaited to be tackled by Mr. President in his next SONA.