GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/06 August) – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 12 (Southwestern Mindanao) has started the processing of free patent applications for residential lands within the region’s four provinces and five cities.
Raquil-Ali Lucman, DENR Region 12 executive director, said he directed the region’s Community Environment and Natural Resources Officers or CENROs to open the distribution of application forms for free patents covering residential areas to facilitate the issuance of their land
“All applications for residential free patents should be filed with the CENROs, which has jurisdiction over these lands,” he said in a statement.
Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Of the 170 CENROs all over the country, at least nine are located in Region 12. North Cotabato has three CENRO field offices while the three other provinces in the region have two field offices each.
Lucman said the processing and issuance of free patents to zoned residential lands, including town sites, was based on the passage of Republic Act (RA) 10023 or the New Free Patent Act on Residential Land.
He said DENR Secretary Ramon Paje announced last month the delivery of the application forms to all its field offices to facilitate their immediate processing.
Citing Paje’s directive regarding the matter to DENR field offices, he said the public to take advantage of the new program, which is mainly offered free.
“This will also legalize the private land rights of qualified residents who are found to be occupying zoned residential lands without appropriate land titles,” said Lucman, quoting Secretary Paje.
Under RA 10023, he said any citizen who is an actual occupant of a residential land for at least 10 years may apply for a free patent, provided that the land being applied for is not needed for public service or public use.
The size of the applied lots should not exceed 200 square meters for highly urbanized cities, 500 square meters in other cities, 750 sq. meters in first and second class municipalities and 1,000 sq. meters in all other municipalities.
DENR’s Land Management Bureau earlier estimated that at least 39 million families would benefit from the implementation of the New Free Patent Act.
RA 10023 was considered a landmark legislation as it streamlined the requirements for land titling and introduced other strategic reforms for the land sector. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)