Legislation NewsPart 4 News: General Business Environment

Efficient titling of land sought by Salceda bill

Jovee Marie de la Cruz | BusinessMirror | October 7, 2019

The chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means is pushing for the passage of a measure seeking to improve the efficiency of land titling in the country.

Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda said his House Bill  4945 aims to improve confirmation of imperfect titles by adopting the processes introduced under Republic Act (RA) 10023 (Residential Free Patent Act) to the Agricultural Free Patent under Section 44 of Commonwealth Act (CA) 141 (Public Land Act).

The bill also aims to integrate and liberalize court confirmation of imperfect titles under the provisions of Presidential Decree 1529 or Property Registration Decree and CA 141, and remove the time period for application on both free patent and confirmation of imperfect title that is about to expire on December 31, 2020.

“Property rights are important to the country’s growth and development,” Salceda said in his explanatory note. “Unclear and unenforceable rights to property could lead to underinvestment, undervalued properties, land grabbing, fake titling and lack of access to credit. Land title is a clear proof of ownership and is important to protection of one’s property rights.”

In the Philippines, he said title to land can be obtained through either administrative mode or judicial mode.

Salceda said that under the Residential Free Patent Act, Congress in 2010 liberalized the titling process in residential lands by allowing administrative issuance of free patents to those who have been in actual occupation of residential public lands for a period of 10 years.

“Congress simplified the process of titling of residential lands, set a shorter period of possession for applicants to comply and at the same time, imposed upon the DENR  [Department of Environment and Natural Resources] a period of 120 days to process applications,” he added. “The law is an instant success and thousands of citizens filed free patent applications, with the DENR processing record breaking numbers in its first years of implementation with more than 382,529 titles  issued to date.”

However, the lawmaker said government data on public land titling show that only 5,174  titles were confirmed by the courts in the last 10 years, saying court titling has steadily declined, with only around 140 titles issued in 2017.

“The steady decline in court-issued titles was due to the court’s recent strict and literal interpretation on land laws,” Salceda said. “Although the court recognizes the countrywide phenomenon of untitled lands and the problem of informal settlement, the court puts the burden in Congress to improve land tenure in the country.”

Moreover, the lawmaker said RA 9176 that allows titling through judicial and administrative legalization of titles is about to expire on December 31, 2020, which means that titling will come to a grinding halt.

For the judicial confirmation of imperfect title, HB 4945 cited qualified persons who may file at any time, in the proper regional trial court an application for registration of title to land, not exceeding 12 hectares, whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives.

Among others, those who have acquired ownership of land in any other manner provided for by law are qualified to undertake this, according to the proposed bill.

Also for administrative legalization (free patent), the bill said any natural-born citizen of the Philippines who is not the owner of more than 12 hectares and who, for at least 30 years prior to the filing of the application, has continuously occupied and cultivated, either by himself or through his predecessors-in-interest a tract or tracts of alienable and disposable agricultural public lands subject to disposition and who shall have paid the real-estate tax thereon shall be entitled to have a free patent issued to him for such tract or tracts of such land not to exceed 12 hectares.

The bill said all applications shall be filed at any time  after the effectivity of this proposal before the DENR’s Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) or region.

The proposed bill mandates the Cenro to process the application within 100 days and 120 days to include compliance with the required notices and other legal requirements, and forward recommendations to the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office. The bill said the Penro has five days to approve or disapprove the patent.

Source: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2019/10/07/efficient-titling-of-land-sought-by-salceda-bill/