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History: Americans Relinquishing Land Title in Philippines

The 4th of July is observed in the Philippines as Philippine-American Friendship Day

This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive

The article in its original context from May 29, 1975, Page 59

Almost 7,000 acres of Philippine land owned by United States citizens are being turned over to Philippine companies as a result of the expiration yesterday of parity rights enjoyed by Americans.

Parity with Filipinos in land ownership and the exploitation of natural resources was among special privileges for United States citizens that the Philippines traded for rehabilitation funds and market preferences under the bilateral trade agreement of 1946. This expired in July, 1974, but the Government of President Ferdinand E. Marcos gave a 10‐month extension for land‐owners.

Upon the lapse of the privileges yesterday, 65 landowners (including subsidiaries of big American corporations) submitted plans for transferring their lands to Filipinos, the Secretary for Industry, Vicente Paterno, said today. The lands have an appraised value of $46‐million.

Goodyear Tire and Rubber, Singer Sewing Machine and three American ‐ owned oil companies — Caltex, Getty and Mobil—have completed the transfer of their lands. The 60 other landowners are complying with the new ownership requirements.

The Government has offered several plans under which the American landowners are able to lease back their lands for as long as 50 years and to retain ownership of buildings and other improvements.

The American Chamber of Commerce here reacted to the divestment requirement by complying without opposition. It reportedly felt that the continued operation of factories and other ventures on the lands was far more important than the issue of ownership. American businessmen here are said to be concerned with protecting existing investments from future Government restrictions. They are also eager to be included in tax and capital incentives offered as part of Government policy to attract investments.

Despite the expiration of the Laurel ‐ Langley trade agreement, which authorized preferential trade and gave American parity rights in land ownership, commerce between the Philippines and the United States remains strong, with an estimated value of more than $1‐billion yearly.

These considerations opened the way to a smooth turnover of American‐owned lands.

The expiration of land rights has been particularly hard on individual owners such as Americans here who bought their lands during the years of United States occupation and have built homes on them.

President Marcos in a decree issued last night gave permanent American residents here who own homelots of no more than 1.25 acres more time to comply with the legal requirements to transfer them to Filipinos.

The decree specified “a reasonable period of time” for these private landholders to continue holding on to their lots.

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