Bill amending land titling system filed in Senate

A BILL improving the land titling system to address the steady decline in title issuance in the past ten years has been filed in the Senate.

Senate Bill No. 1852 proposes to adopt processes observed under the Residential Free Patent Act, or Republic Act No. 10023, in the Agricultural Free Patent provision of the Public Land Act, or Commonwealth Act No. 141.

“The law is an instant success and thousands of citizens filed free patent applications, with the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) processing record breaking numbers in its first years of implementation with more than 382,529 titles issued to date,” Senator Richard J. Gordon said in the explanatory note.

Mr. Gordon said RA 10023 authorizes the administrative issuance of free patents for residential land for those who have occupied the land for 10 years.

He noted, however, that only 5,147 titles were confirmed by courts in the last 10 years, with only 140 titles issued in 2017.

“The steady decline in court-issued titles was due to the court’s recent strict and literal interpretation of land laws,” he said.

The bill will allow occupants to file an application for titles to up to 12 hectares of land, provided they held a claim of ownership for at least 30 years preceding the filing.

Those who have acquired ownership of private lands by right of accession or accretion and other manner provided by law may also file an application.

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.

If enacted, the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office is tasked to begin processing applications and forward recommendations to the provincial office within 120 days.

The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, meanwhile, has five days to approve or disapprove the patent. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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