By Chiara Axibal, Real Estate Research Analyst | Tan Frankum & Associates Commercial Realty
August 11, 2021
On July 16, 2021, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Republic Act (RA) 11573, an act amending the Public Land Act and Property Registration Decree. The signing was only released to the media last July 28, 2021.
What is Republic Act No. 11573 all about?
RA 11573 is an act improving the confirmation process for imperfect land titles, which introduced amendments to the 85-year-old Commonwealth Act No. 141 (The Public Land Act), as amended, and the 43-year-old Presidential Decree No. 1529 (Property Registration Decree), as amended. It was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on July 16, 2021 to simplify the procedures and requirements in granting land titles.
How do agricultural patent claimants benefit from RA 11573?
The Community Environment and Natural resources Office (CENRO) or Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), which are both under the DENR office, are mandated to process the application for agricultural patents within 120 days from filing. For provinces with no CENRO, they may file their applications with the PENRO.
The approval of the application for an agricultural free patent is shortened to five (5) days or less. The new law states, “Upon receipt of the recommendation from the CENRO, or upon the completion of the processing of the application within the reglementary period, the PENRO, DENR, Regional Director, or the Secretary of the DENR, as the case may be, shall approve or disapprove the application for agricultural free patent within 5 days.”
“In case of conflicting claims among different claimants, the parties may seek the proper administrative and judicial remedies,” according to RA 11573.
The period of possession and occupation of alienable and disposable agricultural land is also shortened from 74 years to 20 years only, except when it is prevented by war or force majeure.
Diagram 1: Updated process of agricultural patents as of July 2021.
Who may apply?
The applicant must be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines who has continuously occupied and cultivated a trace or tracts of alienable and disposable agricultural public lands of not more than twelve (12) hectares for twenty (20) years prior to the application for an agricultural free patent and shall have paid the real estate tax to be entitled to have a free patent issued.
Claimants who have acquired ownership of private lands or abandoned riverbeds by right of accession or accretion under the provision of existing laws, and those who have acquired ownership of land in any other manner provided by law can “file petitions in the Regional Trial Court where their province is located, for confirmation of their claims and for the issuance of a certificate of title to land not exceeding twelve (12) hectares,” as stated by the new law.
How do claimants prove that the land is alienable and disposable?
“A duly signed certification by a duly designated DENR geodetic engineer that the land is part of alienable and disposable agricultural lands of the public domain is sufficient proof that the land is alienable,” the law reads. Gross inexcusable negligence from the engineer, such as the falsification of the projection map or incomplete data, and the DENR official who shall have approved such projection map, shall be subject to penalty amounting to not less than 100,000 Philippine pesos but not more than 500,000 Philippine pesos, or imprisonment of not less than six (6) months but not exceeding six (6) years, or both, at the court’s discretion.
Philippine News Agency