The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has welcomed the signing of Republic Act (RA) 11573, which will significantly improve the land titling application processes for alienable and disposable (A&D) agricultural lands.

"The DENR gladly welcomes the passage of RA 11573 into law. We have been aiming for this in order to relieve farmers on some of the requirements from existing land laws and accelerate titling in the country," DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said.

The DENR-Legislative Affairs Group and DENR-Land Management Bureau (LMB), together with the public advocacy organization Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF), have been pushing for the streamlining of land processing requirements since 2020.

"Securing a land title goes beyond land ownership. It elevates the lives of our farmers through the increase in land productivity and promotes investments," Cimatu added.

For her part, DENR-LMB Director Emelyne V. Talabis said the new law gives importance to the completion of agricultural land titling in the country at a faster pace.

"With this, we foresee potential untitled agricultural lands to be titled in the next 10 years," she said.

Talabis said the DENR-LMB, together with the FEF, is set to submit the 10-year Completion of the National Land Titling Program to the House of Representatives this month.

The DENR is currently drafting the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for RA 11573 to ensure that it would be signed by Cimatu within 60 days from its official effectivity date.

"Farmers will soon be able to apply for an agricultural free patent without a specific acceptance period once RA 11573 takes effect," Talabis pointed out.

"We advise applicants to await the issuance of the IRR before applying," she added.

On July 16, 2021, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed RA 11573, or the Act improving the confirmation process for imperfect land titles.

It amended Commonwealth Act No. 141, also known as the Public Land Act, and Presidential Decree No. 1529, otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree.

RA 11573 aims to "simplify, update and harmonize similar and related provisions of land laws in order to simplify and remove ambiguity in its interpretation and implementation."

The law gets rid of the due date for the filing of applications for free patent and judicial confirmation, and reduces the required period of possession to 20 years.

It also mandates the Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices (CENRO) and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices (PENRO) to process free patent applications for 120 days.

Furthermore, it mandates the PENRO, DENR Regional Director, and the DENR Secretary to approve the applications within five days, depending on the size of the land. ###