Bicameral report on land title measure approved by both chambers

THE bicameral report of the proposed law that eases the confirmation process in obtaining deeds to land has been approved by both houses of Congress.

On Wednesday, Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda said the House of Representatives and the Senate signed the bicameral conference committee report reconciling House Bill No. 7440 and Senate Bill No. 1931. The measure is to be known as the Imperfect Land Title Confirmation Act if passed.

“This measure will help small farmers and homesteaders. It makes it easier for them to get everything from borrowing capital from banks, to leasing their land to more efficient users, to earning income from their property,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

Mr. Salceda said small farmers have difficulty having titles unconfirmed since they have insufficient funds to go through the process, which includes various legal procedures and litigation. The current requirements for obtaining deeds are a copy of the original classification approved by the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and a certification from a City or Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO/PENRO). These also need to be published by the DENR.

The bill, if enacted, will reduce the required period of possession for perfection of imperfect title to 20 years from the current 74 years.

The proposed measure will only require the DENR’s approval if the land is more than twenty hectares.  Another feature of the bill is that PENROs and CENROs can now apply for free patent year-round and not only within the prescribed period proclaimed by the Environment Secretary.

Mr. Salceda said the measure will also allow informal settlers acquiring land through accession and accretion under existing laws to petition the courts to perfect their claims.

“Informal settlers who have been residing on their lands for so long now also have a chance to own their property. This is a matter of dignity for thousands of Filipino families,” he said. — Gillian M. Cortez

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