BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) expressed its strong support for the proposed amendment of Republic Act (RA) 9176 to remove the deadline for the application of agricultural free patents and further ease the application process during its meeting on June 10, 2021.
Republic Act 9176 sets the deadline for the filing of applications for agricultural free patents to December 31, 2020. To ensure that farmers continue to be able to avail of tenurial security through the issuance of Agricultural Free Patents, Senator Juan Eduardo Angara introduced Senate Bill (SB) Number 1268, “An Act Simplifying the Confirmation of Imperfect Titles, amending for the Purpose Presidential Decree 1529, Commonwealth Act No. 141, and RA 9176 and for other Purposes,” with provisions that will simplify the administrative titling process, and remove the deadline set by RA 9176 for Agricultural Free Patents.
Senate Bill no. 1268 was substituted by SB No. 1931 authored by Senators Juan Eduardo Angara and Richard Gordon. Carrying the proposed amendments under SB 1268, SB 1931 further eases the application process by removing the need for the certification by the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and other barriers to proof of ownership. The substitute senate bill was certified urgent by the President on December 15, 2020, and as such, was approved by the Senate on second and third reading on the same day.
The Regional Land Use Committee-CAR in a prior meeting stressed that CAR shall benefit immensely from the improvement and streamlining of the existing land laws, including Commonwealth Act 141 as amended by RA 9176 with the constraints in land tenure especially with only 15 percent of its total land area considered alienable and disposable.
The proposed amendments under SB 1931, particularly the removal of the deadline for application for Agricultural Free Patents, will allow farmers in the Cordillera to own their lands and encourage them to continue engaging in farming and invest in increasing their productivity, and eliminate one of the many challenges to agriculture in the region due to its mountainous terrain.
By Bob Lyndon B. Daroya