A measure seeking to simplify the procedures and requirements in granting land titles has been signed into law by President Duterte.
Republic Act No. 11573, or an Act Improving the confirmation process for imperfect land titles, introduced amendments to the Public Land Act and the Property Registration Degree.
“It is the declared policy of the State to simplify, update and harmonize similar and related provisions of land laws in order to simplify and remove ambiguity in its interpretation and implementation,” the law read.
“It is also the policy of the State to provide land tenure security by continuing judicial and administrative tilting processes,” it added.
Under the new law, any Filipino occupant can apply for free patent for up to 12 hectares of land provided the person occupied and cultivated the alienable and disposable agricultural public land and paid taxes for 20 years preceding the filing.
Those who occupy lands of the public domain or claiming ownership but whose titles have not been perfected or completed may file a petition in the regional trial court of the province for confirmation of their claims.
Those who claim ownership of alienable and disposable agricultural lands for 20 years may also file for title confirmation. “They shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title,” the law read.
Persons who acquired ownership of private lands by right of accession or accretion and other manner provided by law may also file an application.
For judicial confirmation of imperfect tiles, the new law ruled that a duly signed certification by a the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) geodetic engineer that the land is part of alienable and disposable agricultural lands is sufficient proof.
The certification must be imprinted in the survey plan to be submitted by the application in the land registration court. It will include a sworn statement by the geodetic engineer and state the applicable Forest Administrative Order, DENR Administrative Order, Executive Order, Proclamations, and the Land Classification Project Map Number covering the subject land.
If there is no available copy of any of these orders, the law said it is sufficient that the Land Classification Map Number, Project Number, and date of release indicted in the land classification map be stated in the sworn statement.
Any geodetic engineer or DENR official involved in gross negligence or falsification of document will be penalized with a fine of up to P500,000 and imprisonment of up to six years.
The applicant will be required to secure a certification that the land is alienable or disposable, through the submission of a projection map prepared by a geodetic engineer and verified by the DENR.
Applications for agricultural free patents shall be filed before the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO). For provinces without CENRO, the application must be lodged with the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO). They are mandated to process the application within 120 days within filing. Upon receipt of recommendation, PENRO, CENRO regional director or DENR Secretary shall approve or disapprove the application for agricultural free patent within five days.
In case of conflicting claims, the parties may seek the proper administrative and judicial remedies.
The law, signed by the President last July 16, will take effect upon publication in the Official Gazette or a newspaper.