TACLOBAN CITY – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is eyeing to award 1,600 free patents in Eastern Visayas this year as part of its effort to help develop alienable and disposable lands in the region.

About 800 of the patents are intended for residential lots and the other 800 are for agricultural lands.

Marilou Abocot, DENR Eastern Visayas assistant chief of Licenses Patents and Deeds Division, said budget constraints prompted them to lower their target this year from the 2,960 free patents awarded in 2022.

The government spends P1,500 for each free patent.
Abocot urged the lot owners to apply for free patents as a mode of acquiring ownership of a certain parcel of alienable and disposable land.

Agricultural free patents, on the other hand, are land grants awarded to natural-born Filipino citizens in actual occupation and cultivation for at least 30 years of alienable and disposable lands not more than 12 hectares and have paid the corresponding real property taxes.

“If someone has free patents, they can improve their lands since there is a sense of ownership. For agricultural lands, they can make it more productive and contribute to economic development,” Abocot told the Philippine News Agency.
The title distribution is in line with the DENR’s program on improved land administration and management.

This includes the processing and issuance of free patents for agricultural and residential lands to provide security of tenure to occupants and landowners of alienable and disposable lands through a simplified, streamlined and cost-effective process of administrative titling.
“Through this project, we are giving an opportunity to property owners to own titled lands without spending much during the process,” she said.

Abocot observes that many landowners in the region have no legal documents showing a proof of ownership of their properties.

Existing laws authorize the issuance of free patents to natural born Filipino citizens who do not own more than 12 hectares of agricultural land, and has continuously occupied or cultivated the subject property either by himself or through his predecessors-in-interest for at least 30 years before the effectivity of the amendatory act, and have paid the real property tax thereon.

Abocot said that for areas covered by Rapid Land Tenure Appraisal (RLTA), it will be easier to process free patents since there is already a clear picture of the land tenure situation on the ground before land titling operations.

Since 2018, areas in the region that have undergone RLTA are Gamay and Lapinig in Northern Samar; Guiuan in Eastern Samar; Bato, Villaba, Babatngon and Albuera in Leyte; and Pinabacdao in Samar.

This year, the appraisal will cover the towns of Basey, Samar; Malitbog, Southern Leyte; Culaba, Biliran; and Lavezares, Northern Samar.