Lacson bill unifies land-related functions with Land Administration Authority

A bill by Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson seeks to help Filipinos benefit from sustainable development by establishing a Land Administration Authority (LAA) that unifies the government’s land administration functions.

Lacson noted that while land is considered the ultimate resource in sustaining life, government agencies have not been efficient in functions such as land surveys, mapping, classification, titling and disposition and registration.

“The proposed Land Reform Act seeks to improve the land sector as a driver to sustainable development, economic growth and poverty alleviation. The bill’s enactment will ensure recognition of the Philippines in the global initiative for sustainable development. It will ultimately improve the access to land and services for the majority of the Filipino people, especially the poor,” he said in Senate Bill 256

[Download: Senate Bill 256, The Land Administration Reform Act of 2016]

View Fullscreen

He lamented there are legal and institutional defects in the structure and operations of the land administration system, causing confusion, delays, high transaction costs – and graft and corruption.

Worse, duplication and overlap of activities by various government agencies may result in delays in the disposition and titling of alienable and disposable land; inaccurate and incomplete land information and records; proliferation of fake titles; and unnecessary costs of land administration services to national and local governments and clients.

Under Lacson’s bill, the LAA will be placed under the Office of the President, and will serve as the primary government agency responsible for land administration and public land management. Its functions are to:

– Conduct, integrate and regulate the functions of geodetic and geophysical surveys, land classification surveys, mapping, aerial photography, remote sensing, management of resource information needed by both public and private sectors, and research development thereof in accordance with existing laws and internationally accepted norms, procedures, and standards
– Survey, map and maintain a database to support the determination of specific limits of forest lands and national parks by Congress
– Survey, map, maintain database on, administer, manage and/or dispose of all alienable and disposable lands of the public domain and other lands, including foreshore and marshlands
– Manage, sell, and/or dispose of the remaining Friar Lands as well as patrimonial property of the national government or government lands as have not been placed under the administration, management, control or exclusive use of any other government agency by legislative or executive issuance
– Register original titles to land and subsequent dealings of registered lands
– Conduct, regulate and approve all types of land surveys including those for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997, and the Urban Development and Housing Act
– Prepare, issue, and register all titles to land issued pursuant to Commonwealth Act No. 141 and subsequent dealings of registered lands including all types of tenure instruments intended for the implementation of the CARL, UDHA and the IPRA
– Determine, fix, and collect reasonable amounts to be charged as administrative fees, fines, and penalties
– Formulate land administration and management policies in accordance with existing national laws

A stakeholders’ advisory committee will assist the LAA, with members including:

– six representatives from farmers, fisherfolk, urban poor, workers in the informal sector; indigenous peoples and NGOs, chosen through a nomination of the National Anti-Poverty Commission
– two representatives from the NAPC Women’s Sectoral Council
– three representatives from the private sector such as real estate, professionals/practitioners, and academe to be appointed by the President
– the LAA Director General, as ex-officio member

The LAA can use 20 percent of all revenues derived from fees, charges, and other sources in the implementation of its projects.

An advisory committee shall advise the LAA on the formulation of policies and policy development.

It will also monitor their implementation, and submit a report to the President on its advisory and monitoring activities.

Land Adjudication Board

Meanwhile, a Land Adjudication Board will be set up to determine and adjudicate land administration and public land management matters. It will have five members nominated by the Stakeholders Advisory Committee and appointed by the President.

The LAB is to decide any case or controversy within 30 days. Only one motion for reconsideration shall be allowed, while any order, award, ruling, or decision shall be final after a 15-day period.

Frivolous or dilatory appeals are to be discouraged with “reasonable penalties” including fines or censures upon erring parties.

Transfer of powers

The powers and functions of the LAA vested by law in the DENR, DOJ, LRA/RoD, LMB/LMS, NAMRIA – except the powers and functions of its Coast and Geodetic Surveys Department, DENR-Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program National Secretariat, LAMP, or in any office within or attached to these agencies, are transferred to the Office of the LAA Director General.

Meanwhile, the NAMRIA’s Coast and Geodetic Surveys Department will be transferred to the Office of the Secretary of National Defense.

Within 12 months upon the effectivity of this Act, the commissioned officers and enlisted and civilian technical personnel of the Coast and Geodetic Survey Department of NAMRIA and a complement of administrative support staff shall be constituted as the National Hydrographic Office directly under the Office of the Secretary of National Defense.

The National Hydrographic Office shall be responsible for the hydrographic and oceanographic surveys necessary in chart production and safety to navigation.

Personnel not offered appointment within 12 months upon the effectivity of this Act under the new staffing pattern of the LAA are entitled to a gratuity and other benefits as well as a refund of their contributions including government share to the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

A “one-time” separation fund of P2 billion will be established to pay the separation benefits.

Penalties

A person who sells forms issued and distributed for free, or who fails to furnish it, shall be punished for each offense by a fine of P100,000 to P1 million, or imprisonment of six months to three years.

Any person or entity not qualified or authorized to apply for registration purposes that still files or knowingly lets another file an application in its behalf shall be punished for each offense by a fine of at least P100,000 or imprisonment of at least five years.

One who fraudulently tries to acquire public lands and any person aiding him or her shall be punished by a fine of P100,000 and imprisonment of at least five years.

Tampering LAA records to acquire rights, title or interest over lands may face a fine of at least P500,000 and imprisonment of at least 12 years.

Government officials or employees who violate the act also face removal from office, forfeiture of all retirement benefits except the monetary value of accumulated leave credits, and perpetual disqualification from elective or appointive public office.

Oversight

A Congressional Oversight Committee composed of seven members from the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources and seven from the House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources will be created and review the implementation of the act.

*****