Land Rights Philippines

Working towards secured property rights in the Philippines

DENR creates task force to fast-track land titling in Eastern Samar

October 24, 2017


BORONGAN CITY, Eastern Samar—Despite the decade-long Handog Titulo program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that seeks to boost the government’s land-distribution program, almost 70 percent of land in Eastern Samar remains untitled.

The absence of land titles proved to be a hindrance in rehabilitation efforts for the victims of Supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013, as the government and some aid agencies require proof of land ownership before a family can get assistance.

“It was proven that in disasters, formal property rights evidenced through patents, titles, CLOAs [certificate of land ownership awards] are resiliency tools of agricultural workers, particularly farmers,” said Rina Reyes, coordinator of non-governmental organization Katarungan-Eastern Visayas. “Evidence of land ownership enables them to access a timely and appropriate rehabilitation response.”

Katarungan-EV is the lead agency of the Coalition of Yolanda Survivors and Partners (CYSP) on issues related to land rights of communities devastated by  Yolanda. It has been lobbying with the DENR and the Department of Agrarian Reform for the immediate release of free patents and CLOAs for the marginalized farmers and fishermen within the so-called
Yolanda corridor.

On August 18 the DENR released Special Order (SO) 2017-641, creating a “task force to fast-track the processing and distribution of agricultural and residential free patent” of CYSP.

The task force is primarily composed of personnel from the different agencies under the DENR.

The order, signed by Environmental Undersecretary Ernesto D. Adobo Jr. , seeks to facilitate the titling of lands in seven select villages in three municipalities of Eastern Samar.

The task force is given four months to complete the titling and incorporate the records into the Land Administration and Management System of the DENR in Eastern Visayas.

It is also tasked to coordinate with the local government units on the identification of the 40-meter “no build zone” in coastal villages and in the patent drive application, as well as to determine the possibility of waiving the cadastral cost of the covered areas.

Reyes said  while the special order covers only three towns—Lawaan, Giporlos and Balangiga—the ultimate aim is “to extend this to the entire Eastern Samar, where residents have long been deprived of formal property rights.”

Halfway through its four-month timeline, the task force had its first consultation with the community in the town of Balangiga on October 17. But all the task force told the dismayed residents of the community was members of the task force had not yet met.

“Succeeding meetings should first involve leveling off on many items in the SO, particularly that this is a pilot, test implementation that should roll onto the other five municipalities of Katarungan,” Reyes said.

Similar to the Handog Titulo program, the special order seeks the speedy release of free patents for those occupying an alienable and disposal land for at least 10 years. But unlike the said program, areas covered by the SO consider the possibility of waiver of fees in the cadastral cost. The SO also streamlines the process by allowing a collective processing of requirements.


By Elmer Recuerdo | Business Mirror

DENR creates task force to fast-track land titling in Eastern Samar