Press Release
May 16, 2017


Convinced that removing the restrictions from agricultural free patents would lead to higher agricultural productivity, rural banks, concerned government agencies and concerned organizations have expressed support to proposed Senate measures seeking to remove the said restrictions.

They expressed their support during the hearing conducted by Senator Richard J. Gordon, chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, on proposed bills seeking to amend the Public Lands Act by removing the restrictions on agricultural free patents.

The measures under discussion in the hearing were Senate Bill No. 101, entitled "An Act Removing the Restrictions Under Sections 118, 119, 121, 122 and 123 of Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended, On Free Patents Issued Under Section 44 Thereof," which Gordon introduced; Senate Bill No. 645; and Senate Bill No. 1260 entitled "An Act Removing the Restrictions in the Registration of Land Titles Under Sections 118 and 119 of Commonwealth Act No. 141 or the Public Land Act, as amended, on Free Patents Issued Under Section 44 Thereof," which Gordon also introduced.

"A primary reason for the persistent poverty in the country is low agricultural productivity. One of the causes of this low productivity is insecurity of land rights and access to credit by agricultural farm owners due to the restrictions on transfers and conveyances imposed by the Public Land Act on lands covered by agricultural free patents," Gordon pointed out.

"Due to the restrictions on agricultural free patents under the Public Land Act, the titles are non-tradable and non-bankable. Farmers are restricted from mortgaging or selling their land within five years from the issuance of the patent. Hence, they cannot use the titles as collateral to get additional capital to inject into their farms or pour into other investments," he added.

Gordon noted out that with majority of the poor in rural areas depending on agriculture for their primary livelihood and source of income, agriculture can play a key role in reducing poverty. However, in 2015, agriculture barely grew at 0.2%.

He added that although an estimated of 2,000,000 agricultural free patents have been issued in the last 25 years, holders of the titles still are still unable to use them to avail of additional capital to improve their produce or make other investments. Hence, the restrictions should be removed.

One of the resource persons during the hearing, Calixto Chikiamco of the Foundation for Economic Freedom, said that removing the restrictions would unleash an estimated P387-billion worth of capital into the market.

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