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A total of 555 residents in Region 2 have obtained absolute ownership over the land they have been occupying through the Handog Titulo Program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The 524 land titles were distributed in separate occasions in the different provinces as a highlight of the Lands Anniversary in September 2019. The other 31 patents were awarded earlier this year.

On August 1, 2019, Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu ordered all DENR Regional Offices and the Land Management Bureau to conduct a nationwide Handog Titulo Program in September.

“The activity shall be conducted in partnership with Local Government Units (LGUs),” the national environment top official mandated.

In Nueva Vizcaya, 346 free patents were distributed. For the provinces of Isabela and Quirino, a total of 80 and 43 titles were awarded, respectively. While the island province of Batanes distributed 55 land titles.

Cagayan Valley DENR Regional Executive Director Atty. Antonio A. Abawag said the Department will continue the partnership with the local government units to facilitate the processing of land titles.

“We commit to strengthen the DENR-LGU partnership in providing secure property rights for every landowner,” lawyer Abawag said in a statement.

The Handog Titulo Program aims to expedite the processing and issuance of public land patents to qualified individuals. It seeks to achieve security of tenure for poverty alleviation and economic development.

Through the land titles, revenue collection in the form of real property taxes increases thereby providing inclusive economic growth.

Under the Residential Free Patent Act or Republic Act (RA) No. 10023, any Filipino citizen who has continuously possessed and occupied land, either by himself or through his predecessor in interest for at least 10 years may qualify as a beneficiary.

The law provides for the judicial disposition of untitled public alienable and disposable lands through the more efficient and less costly free patent process.#