Duterte signed Republic Act 11231 or known as Agricultural Free Patent Reform Act on Feb. 22 making agricultural land titles immediately available for trade to help spur development in the agricultural sector.
The act includes the state “allows the efficient and effective utilization of these lands in order to contribute to wealth creation, entrepreneurship, and economic development”.
“Agricultural public lands alienated or disposed in favor of qualified public land applicants under Section 44 of Commonwealth Act 141, as amended, shall not be subject to restrictions imposed under Sections 118, 119 and 121 thereof regarding acquisitions, encumbrances, conveyances, transfers, or dispositions,” the new law reads.
“An agricultural free patent shall now be considered as a title in fee simple and shall not be subject to any restriction on encumbrance or alienation,” it added.
This Act which is a consolidation of Senate Bill 1454 and House Bill 8078 was passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives on December 6, 2018, and December 10, 2018, respectively.
Prior to this law, the Public Land Use Act enacted in 1936 entitles any Filipino who has “continuously occupied and cultivated, either by himself or through his predecessors in interest, a tract or tracts of agricultural public lands subject to disposition” to have an agricultural free patent issued to him, for the same land not exceeding 24 hectares.
This act, however, states that agricultural patent holders are “prohibited from mortgaging or selling their land within five years from the issuance of the patent, and given the right to repurchase the patents within five years from transfer or conveyances’’.
Under the Agricultural Free Patent Act, agricultural free patent “shall now be considered as title in fee simple and shall not be subject to any restriction against encumbrance or alienation”.
Senator Richard Gordon, who authored the law, said in previous reports that the removal of some restrictions will unleash the power of freer land markets.
“It will make agricultural patents bankable to improve the economy because right now, nobody will want to buy it because of the restrictions,” he said.
“We will empower the farmer. We will give him options about what he can do with the land - options such as borrowing against the land to develop it, or selling the land to a more productive farmer,” he added.