CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- More than 150 residents and their families in Zambales recently received their early Christmas gift after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here distributed land titles as part of the "Handog Titulo" program of the government.
According to Paquito Moreno, executive director of DENR in Central Luzon, a total of 30 residential free patents called land titles covering 9,200 square meters were distributed to residents of Batonlapoc village in Botolan town.
"Handog Titulo is a priority program of Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu. To provide a more accessible and transparent public land titling, our Secretary wanted to establish a satellite office in every barangay, that will receive and process land title applications," he said.
He said land titles provide security of tenure and enable residents of Central Luzon to uplift their lives, adding that the Handog Titulo program aims to fuel progress in communities and to improve economic productivity of the people, by expediting the processing and issuance of public land patents to qualified beneficiaries.
In August 2018, Cimatu issued DENR Administrative Order (DAO) 2019-08, which instructs all Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices (Penro) and Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices (Cenro) of the DENR to accept public land titling applications at the barangay level.
Moreno said the issuance of the DAO was fundamental in improving land administration and management in the country, as well as in sustaining the efforts to simplify, streamline and fast-track the disposition of public alienable and disposable lands through free and homestead patents.
"With effective land management and administration system, land can serve as an important asset for poverty reduction and economic development. Land title is an absolute proof of one's ownership," he added.
For her part, Botolan Mayor Doris Maniquis expressed her gratitude to the prompt action of the government to address land concerns in Batonlapoc village.
"Having our land titles in our hands is both a privilege and a responsibility. Let us be responsible, and do our obligations as land owners," she said, reminding beneficiaries to declare their titles to the municipal assessor's office and pay their corresponding real property taxes.
Since 2011 a total of 31,743 residential land titles covering 629 hectares have already been distributed in Central Luzon benefiting well over 158,000 residents and their families.
The DENR is set to distribute another 2,100 residential free patents in 2020.