39M Filipinos to own their lands through free patent bill
Approximately 39 million Filipinos would be able to legally obtain the lands that they possessed in the concept of owner for a long period of time once the free patent bill is passed into law, Senator Richard J. Gordon said.
Gordon said there are 24 million land parcels in the Philippines and approximately half of these parcels remain untitled. Under the present law, titles to commercial and industrial lands can only be obtained through judicial confirmation of free patent.
"But many landowners, despite possession of their land by virtue of their compliance with the conditions of the law, have chosen not to do anything due to the high cost, long delay, and inconvenient procedures of judicial confirmation of free patent," he said.
The senator explained that such situation, where many land parcels remain untitled, make for bad economics, because landowners cannot secure loans on their property for business and home improvement since they lack title to their property; and bad policy, because without a title, landowners will not be secure in their possession, potentially becoming victims of illegally issued land titles by criminal syndicates.
It is in this light that the free patent bill was proposed.
Gordon, one of the authors of Senate Bill 3429 (an Act Reforming the Administrative Titling Process), said that the bill aims to ease the requirements and/or procedures in the titling of residential and commercial lands.
The salient features of the bill include: the reduction of the period of eligibility for titling from 30 years to 10 years; the issuance of free patents without payment of outstanding real estate taxes; the extension of free patents to residential lands (in all municipalities and cities) regardless of income classification; and the removal of restrictions after patent issuance.
"This bill would benefit the millions of landowners who have not been able to secure titles to lands that they have occupied, cultivated or possessed for more than ten years now," he said.
"Once they avail of the free patent, these families will be able to sleep better because they have secure titles to their lands. They will be able to obtain loans from their banks if they need to; bequeath the property or divide it among their children if they wish to; and get a higher value for their property because they now have a registered title," he added.