President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a measure that abolishes restrictions on agricultural free patents which were instituted way back in the Commonwealth era, allowing farmers to immediately make their land titles available for resale or mortgaging.
Republic Act 11231 or the “Agricultural Free Patent Reform Act,” a consolidation of Senate Bill 1454 and HB 8078 which was principally sponsored by Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap and other members of the House, was signed into law on February 22, but was only made known to the media on March 14 and to the provinces last week for information dissemination.
“it is the declared policy of the State to remove the restrictions on free patents to allow the efficient and effective utilization of these lands in order to contribute to wealth creation, entrepreneurship, and economic development,” the new law states.
Yap explained that since the Commonwealth era, under Commonwealth Act 141 or the Public Land Act, landowners were prohibited “to sell and mortgage the land within the first five years of the patent grant”.
With the prescribed restrictions, the original owner only had the option “to buy back the property within five years from the date of sale.”
RA 11231 removes these limitations, providing farmers access to capital and credit by making their land tradeable and bankable.
RA 11231 will take effect 15 days from its publication in a newspaper of nationwide circulation.
The new law has a “retroactive effect and any restrictions regarding acquisitions, encumberances, conveyances, transfers or dispositions imposed on agricultural free patents issued under Section 44 of Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended, before the effectivity this Act shall be removed and hereby immediately lifted.”
Yap, for his part, started efforts to abolish the restrictions on agricultural free patents through his House Bill 4379.
The proposed legislation was later consolidated with other similar bills filed by Representatives Rey Umali, Joey Salceda, Jose Belmonte, Romero Quimbo, Manuel Del Rosario III, Ferdinand Hernandez, Orestes Salon, Delphin Gan Lee and Luis Villafuerte, Jr. into House Bill 8078.