The new Agricultural Free Patent Act, or RA 11231, recently signed by President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to “deliver a huge and immediate impact on the economy, on investments in the countryside and on inclusive growth” from the agriculture sector.
RA 11231 lifts the restrictions on owners of agricultural free patents and lands from mortgaging or selling them within five years from date of possession, which have made agricultural lands and patents unbankable assets since banks are not inclined to hold a property for five years before its disposition.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, principal author of the measure in the Lower House, said the measure maked agricultural land titles immediately available for trade to help spur development in the agricultural sector, easing up certain prohibitions in granting public farmlands to qualified beneficiaries.
It also empowers qualified farmland beneficiaries to legally manage and improve the land as a viable source of livelihood.
“For a country that has its roots in agriculture it is sad to note that agriculture only contributes 8.5 percent to the gross domestic product in 2017, but with the new law, there will be a radical change because farmers are empowered and given the option on what to do with the land,” said Salceda.
RA 11231 removes the Commonwealth-era restrictions on agricultural free patents imposed under the Commonwealth Act No. 141, or the Public Land Act, which prohibits land owners to sell and mortgage the land within the first five years of the patent grant and gives the original owner the option to buy back the property within five years from the date of sale.
Salceda, a noted economist, said the restrictions had given poor farmers limited options to obtain funds to modernize and hike farm productivity and invest in their improvement. Among the culprits in the government’s failure to maximize farm production, he noted, were the lack of modernization and inadequate use of inputs to increase production and make farms viable sources of economic growth for farmers, the community and the country as a whole.
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