President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law removing restrictions on agricultural free patents, giving farmers access to more capital to increase their productivity and thus reduce poverty in the countryside.
Under the 1936 Public Land Use Act, an agricultural free patent is required for those who occupied and cultivated tracts of agricultural lands although holders are prohibited from selling or mortgaging their land within five years upon the issuance of the patent.
However, with the signing of RA 11231, or the Agricultural Free Patent Act, Duterte has removed the said restrictions, paving the way for an efficient and effective utilization of lands to contribute to wealth creation, entrepreneurship, and economic development, Malacañang said.
In other developments:
• Duterte also signed a law mandating the use of bigger, readable, and color-coded number plates and other identification marks in motorcycles, documents from Malacañang showed on Thursday.
Duterte signed Republic Act 11235, also known as Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act on March 8. A copy of which was only released by the Palace to the media on Thursday.
Under the new legislation, the Land Transportation Office shall issue bigger, readable, and color-coded license plates to every motorcycle in the country.
• At the same time, Malacañang said Duterte signed a law seeking to fast-track the legal adoption processes of a child by allowing simulated births through simplified administrative proceedings.
On Feb 21, Duterte signed Republic Act 11222, or the Simulated Birth Rectification Act. A copy of which was only released by the Palace on Thursday.
The new law grants amnesty and allows the rectification of the simulated birth of a child where the simulation was made for the best interest of the child.
It would also provide a simple and less costly administrative adoption proceeding where the child has been living with the person or persons who simulated her or his birth record for at least three years before the effectivity of the said act.
The new law also defines simulation of birth record as the “tampering of the civil registry to make it appear in the record of birth that a child was born to a person who is not such child’s biological mother, and causing the lost of the true identity and status of such child.”
Under the Agricultural Free Patent Act, “Agricultural free patent shall now be considered as title in fee simple and shall not be subject to any restriction on encumbrance or alienation.”
“This Act shall have retroactive effect and any restriction regarding acquisitions, encumbrances, conveyances, transfers, or dispositions imposed on agricultural free patents issued under Section 44 of Commonwealth Act No. 141,” it added.
The law was authored by Senator Richard Gordon. It shall take effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette
or in a newspaper of general circulation.
On the plates law, “the LTO shall determine the font style and size of the number plates provided that the contents of the number plates shall be readable from the front, the back, and the side of the motorcycle from a distance of t least 15 meters from the motorcycle.”
“The LTO shall also devise a color scheme of the readable number plates for every region in the Philippines where a motorcycle is registered for quick and easy identification,” it added.
These readable number plates must then be displayed in both the front and back sides of the motorcycle and should be made of suitable and durable material as determined by the LTO.
“The utilization of voluntary and paid labor from prisoners shall be among the requirements to bid for the procurement of the number plates under this Act,” the law stated.
To ensure its full and proper implementation, the LTO shall maintain a registry of motorcycles in a database to facilitate information retrieval for official investigation and law enforcement purposes.
The registry of motorcycles shall include, but not limited to, the following information: name of motorcycle owner, motorcycle owner’s driver’s license number, owner’s address and contact details, motorcycle identification number, plate number, motorcycle body color,, and motorcycle brand/make.
The new law also stressed if a motorcycle is used in the commission of a crime, constituting a grave felony under the Revised Penal Code, or in the escape from the scene of such crime, the owner, driver, backrider or passenger involved in the crime shall be punished by reclusion temporal to reclusion perpetua.
In the event that the motorcycle is used for crimes constituting a less grave felony, the owner, driver, backrider or passenger involved shall face prision correctional to prision mayor.
Should the number plate of a motorcycle is lost, damaged, or stolen, the owner of such motorcycle shall immediately report the incident to the LTO and the Philippine National Police and request for a number plate replacement. Failure to do so would cost the owner a fine of not less than P20,000 but not more than P50,000.
On the other hand, the tampering of the plates would cost owners a punishment by prision mayor or a fine of not less than P50,000 but not more than P100,000.
The law also mandates the establishment of a joint LTO and PNP Operations and Control Center, which shall be under the supervision of the Department of Informations and Communication Technology, to address any emergency, inquiry, and concerns regarding the implementation of the said Act.
“It shall be operational and accessible real-time, 24 hours a day, and seven days a week to facilitate the implementation of this Act. It shall be equipped with the latest available technology and adequate computers and software,” it said.