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Bill seeking to simplify land titling to help farmers

Sen. Richard J. Gordon has sponsored Senate Bill 1931 that aims to improve the confirmation of imperfect titles by simplifying the procedure and requirements in granting land deeds to help rural farmers and those who are unable to afford legal representation to secure land titles.

Let us help our farmers and underprivileged to get title for the land they farm so that they will have lands they given to their children or use as collateral to borrow money from the bank to improve their farm output for their families,” Gordon said in his sponsorship speech at the plenary.

The present law governing land titles in the country requires the production of a copy of the original classification approved by the Environment and Natural Resources secretary, as well as a City Environment and Natural Resources Office Certification, that should be accompanied by an official publication of the DENR secretary’s issuance declaring that the land is alienable and disposable.

These requirements have been difficult to secure that the demands to present proof of property rights before the courts are stringent.

“The first primary objective of this bill is to address the difficulties encountered in proving ownership since 1945 and the strict standards set by the Supreme Court in the judicial confirmation of imperfect titles. While the courts impose stringent requirements, it should be emphasized that the document certifying that the land is within alienable and disposable lands will not show the relative location of the land,” Gordon said.

Under his bill, the need for DENR secretary’s certification and the barriers of proving ownership would be removed.

It would also synchronize and shorten the period of possession required for perfection of imperfect titles from 74 years to 30 years.

Another objective of the bill is to remove the fixed term set on Dec. 31, 2020 for the filing of application of agricultural free patents as stated under Republic Act 9176.

After this period, titling of agricultural lands through free patent would expire, resulting in an impasse where unregistered owners of agricultural lands would no longer be able to formalize their ownership.

“If no law is passed to extend or remove the period of application, no new agricultural free patent will be issued by DENR and poor rural farmers may not be able to title their lands. Under this proposed bill, we now remove the deadline for the application through free patent, making it available at any time, for qualified beneficiaries,” Gordon said.

He stressed that land title is a clear proof of ownership and is important to protection of one’s property rights.

“Property rights are important to the country’s growth and development. Unclear and unenforceable rights to property could lead to underinvestment, undervalued properties, land grabbing, fake titling, lack of access to credit and certainly, poverty,” he said.