What is the the meaning of "free patent"?
The answer is found in the provisions of Act 141, otherwise known as the "Public Land Act" and Republic Act 10023, otherwise known as the "Residential Free Patent Act of 2009." Succinctly, Section 11 of the Public Land Act indicates that free patent is a mode of disposition of public agricultural land whereby an incomplete or imperfect title over a parcel of land is administratively legalized. For brevity, Section 11 of the afore-mentioned law reads:
"SECTION 11. Public lands suitable for agricultural purposes can be disposed of only as follows, and not otherwise:
"(1) For homestead settlement
"(2) By sale
"(3) By lease
"(4) By confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles:
"(a) By judicial legalization
"(b) By administrative legalization (free patent)." (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Pursuant to the Residential Free Patent Act of 2009, free patent can now be applied to public agricultural lots zoned as residential land.
Consequently, in order to qualify for residential free patent, the requirements under Section 1 and Section 3 of the Residential Free Patent Act must be satisfied, viz.:
"Section 1. Qualifications. - Any Filipino citizen who is an actual occupant of a residential land may apply for a Free Patent Title under this Act: Provided; That in highly urbanized cities, the land should not exceed two hundred (200) square meters; in other cities, it should not exceed five hundred (500) square meters; in first class and second class municipalities, it should not exceed seven hundred fifty (750) square meters; and in all other municipalities, it should not exceed one thousand (1,000) square meters; Provided, further, That the land applied for is not needed for public service and/or public use.
"Section 3. Application. - The application on the land applied for shall be supported by a map based on an actual survey conducted by a licensed geodetic engineer and approved by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and a technical description of the land applied for together with supporting affidavit of two (2) disinterested persons who are residing in the barangay of the city or municipality where the land is located, attesting to the truth of the facts contained in the application to the effect that the applicant thereof has, either by himself or through his predecessor-in-interest, actually resided on and continuously possessed and occupied, under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership, the land applied for at least ten (10) years and has complied with the requirements prescribed in section 1 hereof."
Thus, applying the preceding provisions of law, a Filipino citizen who is in actual possession/occupation for at least 10 years of an alienable and disposable public land zoned as residential lots may submit an application for the issuance of free patent. In this connection, a qualified applicant with a complete application may file before the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) whose jurisdiction covers the area where the parcel of land subject of the application is situated (See Section 2.17 of DENR Administrative Order 12-10).
Source: The Manila Times