Duterte inks law simplifying land titling

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

August 4, 2021, 6:57 pm

<p>President Rodrigo Roa Duterte <em>(File photo)</em></p>

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (File photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a measure improving the confirmation process for imperfect titles by simplifying the procedure and requirements in granting land deeds.

Republic Act (RA) 11573, inked on July 16, introduces amendments to Commonwealth Act 141 or the Public Land Act and Presidential Decree 1529 or the Property Registration Decree to “simplify and remove ambiguity” in the interpretation of similar and related provisions of land laws.

The current law governing land titles in the country mandates the claimant to present a copy of the original classification approved by the Department of Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary, a certification from the City or Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO/PENRO), and an official publication of the DENR Secretary’s issuance declaring that the land is alienable and disposable.

Under RA 11573, the CENRO or the PENRO is directed to process the application for agricultural free patents within 120 days.

The CENRO is also required to forward its recommendation to the PENRO if the land area is below five hectares, to the DENR Regional Director if the land area is at least five up to 10 hectares, and to the DENR Secretary if the land area is more than 10 up to 12 hectares.

“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 an agricultural free patent within five days,” the new law read.

In case of conflicting claims among different claimants, the parties may seek the proper administrative and judicial remedies.

RA 11573 also shortens the period of possession and occupation of alienable and disposable agricultural lands to 20 years from the present 74 years, “except when prevented by war or force majeure.”

It also allows those who have acquired ownership of private lands or abandoned riverbeds by right of accession or accretion under the provision of existing laws, as well as those who have acquired ownership of land in any other manner provided by law, to file petitions before the regional trial courts for the perfection of their claims.

“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. Said certification shall be imprinted in the approved survey plan submitted by the application in the land registration court,” the newly-signed law said.

The imprinted certification in the plan should contain the geodetic engineer’s sworn statement that the land is within the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain, and should state the applicable Forestry Administrative Order, DENR Administrative Order, Executive Order, Proclamations and the Land Classification Project Map Number covering the subject land.

Should there be no available copy of the required documents, Project Number and date or release in the land classification map should be stated in the sworn statement declaring that it is existing in the inventory of the Land Classification Map records of the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority and is being used by the DENR.

A geodetic engineer who will prepare, “willfully or through gross inexcusable negligence,” a projection map with fraudulent or incomplete information, as well as the DENR who will approve the said map, will be penalized with a fine of up to PHP500,000 or imprisonment of up to six years, or both, at the discretion of the court.

RA 11573 mandates the DENR to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations within 60 days from the effectivity of the law to carry out its provisions.

The law, which was made public just on Wednesday, takes effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general circulation.

Renames, converted schools

Meantime, Duterte also signed laws renaming and converting schools in some parts of the country.

According to RA 11574, Abra State Institute of Sciences and Technology in Lagangilag and Bangued municipalities in Abra is converted into a state university and will be known as the University of Abra.

RA 11575 renames the Compostela Valley State College in Compostela, Davao de Oro as the Davao de Oro State College, while RA 11584 changes the name of Surigao del Sur University in Surigao del Sur into North Eastern Mindanao State University.

Under RA 11585, Bicol State College of Applied Sciences and Technology in Naga, Camarines Sur is converted into a state university. The school will be known as the Southeast Asian University of Technology.

RA 11586 also converts Agusan del Sur State College of Agriculture and Technology in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur into a state university and integrates the satellite campus in Trento town. The converted school will be known as Agusan del Sur State University.

Occidental Mindoro State College in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro will also now be known as Occidental Mindoro State University after being converted into a state university, based on RA 11587.

RAs 11574 and 11575 were signed on July 23, while RA 11584, 11585, 11586, and 11587 were inked on July 30. (PNA)