Agricultural free patent reform

"The law will be transformational, even revolutionary."



The right to life is the source of all rights—and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since a person has to sustain his life by his own effort, the person who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life. The person who produces while others dispose of his product is a slave.

Bear in mind that the right to property is a right to action, like all the others: it is not the right to an object, but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning that object. It is not a guarantee that a person will earn any property, but only a guarantee that he will own it if he earns it. It is the right to gain, to keep, to use, and to dispose of material values.

Finally, after decades, an economic restriction, which prevented land owners from creating wealth, and hampered economic prosperity, was removed by the government.

Both the Senate and the House have ratified the bicameral report of the Agricultural Free Patent Reform Act under Senate Bill 1454 and House Bill 8078, paving the way for its passage into law.

The Agricultural Free Patent Reform Act removes the Commonwealth-era restrictions on agricultural free patents imposed under the Commonwealth Act No. 141 or the Public Land Act.

These restrictions prohibit land owners to sell and mortgage the land within the first five years of the patent grant and gives the option to the original owner of buying back the property within five years from the date of sale. The latter restriction has made agricultural patents unbankable inasmuch as banks do not want to hold a property for five years before its disposition.

Senator Richard Gordon, the principal champion of the Bill and Chairman of the Senate Justice Committee, claims that this law is going to be a game-changer. “We are trying to create wealth, and the poor, kakaunti lang ang lupa nila, hindi pa nila maisanla. [Their land is already small yet they cannot mortgage it to borrow money.] That’s why this law has been tackled by the Senate and the House and has been approved,” he said.

“The Agricultural Free Patent Reform Act will be revolutionary and transformational for agriculture,” according to Calixto Chikiamco, President of Foundation for Economic Freedom. He added that the Act will benefit more than two and half million agricultural patent landowners and spur agricultural lending. It will ease transactions in the rural land market that will lead to the highest and best use of agricultural land.

Johnson Melo, Director of Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines, said that the lifting of restrictions on agricultural free patents will enhance the credit access of farmers as well as micro, small, and medium enterprises, or MSMEs. It will empower millions of free patent holders who, prior to this, could not freely use their land as a capital asset due to the restrictions.

Senators Richard Gordon and Bam Aquino, sponsored the Bill in the Senate. In the House, it was sponsored by Representatives Joey Salceda, Kit Belmonte, Romero Quimbo, Arthur Yap, Monsour del Rosario III, Reynaldo Umali, Ferdinand Hernandez, Orestes Salon, Delphine Lee, and Luis Villafuerte Jr. The Bill was heard under the Senate Committee on Justice, chaired by Senator Gordon and the House Committee on Justice, chaired by Rep. Umali and later by Rep. Doy Leachon.

Individuals and organizations who have also pushed for the removal of the restrictions include RBAP, leading Philippine agricultural economists Dr. Raul Fabella, Dr. Rolando Dy, Dr. Ramon Clarete, and Dr. Bruce Tolentino, Philippine Solar Power Alliance, and the AGRI Party-list.

I applaud these honorable representatives and individuals in their efforts to find and remove wealth-destroying economic restrictions.

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Topics: Eric Jurado , Agricultural free patent reform
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