Homestead is a mode of acquiring alienable and disposable lands of the public domain for agricultural purposes conditioned upon actual cultivation and residence. The Philippine Legislature passed the Homestead law in 1903.
In 1903 the homestead program allowed enterprising tenants to acquire a farm of at least 16 hectares to cultivate. However, the program was not implemented nationwide and was introduced only in some parts of Mindanao and Northern Luzon, where there were available public alienable and disposable lands. National Land Settlement Administration (NLSA), created through Commonwealth Act. No. 441, continued the Homestead Program.
A Homestead application should be filed at the Department of Energy and Natural Resources -Community Environment and Natural Resources Office where the land being applied for is located. Those who are qualified to apply for the patent should be a Filipino citizen and of legal age (18), most preferably the head of a family. In addition, the applicant should not own more than 12 hectares of land pursuant to the 1987 constitution.
A married woman can now apply for a patent application under DAO-2002-13 dated June 24, 2002 issued by the then Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Heherson T. Alvarez. This is in accordance with Article II, Section 14 of the Constitution and Republic Act No. 7192 otherwise known as the Women in Development and Nation Building Act as implemented by DAO No. 98-15 of May 27, 1998 on "Revised Guidelines on the Imoplementation of Gender and Development (GAD) Activities in the DENR". This Administrative Order gives women, equal right as men in filing, acceptance, processing and approval of public land applications.
The legal requirements needed for the application are the following:
- Application fee of P50.00;
- Entry fee of P5.00;
- Final fee of P5.00;
- Approved plan and technical description of the land applied for;
- Actual occupation and residence by the applicant
There are several steps before a person is issued a homestead patent. Upon the filing of application, the government will conduct a preliminary investigation verifying the authenticity of the statements of the applicants. If the government, finds no fault then the application shall be approved. The applicant should then file for final proofs which consists of two parts (1) notice of intention to make final proof which is posted for 30 days and (2) testimony of the applicant corroborated by two witnesses mentioned in the notice. The final proof in filed not earlier than one year after the approval of the application but within 5 years from the indicated date. After the submission of these papers, the government will conduct a confirmatory final investigation and then they will release an order of issuance of patent. The applicant will then wait for the preparation of patent using Judicial Form No. 67 and 67-D and the technical description duly inscribed at the back thereof. Lastly, is the transmittal of the Homestead patent to the Register of Deeds concerned.
According to Commonwealth Act No. 456, Section 19 -not more than one homestead entry shall be allowed to any one person and no person to whom a homestead patent has been issued by virtue of the provisions of this Act regardless of the area of his original homestead, may again acquire a homestead; Provided, however, That any previous homesteader who has been issued a patent for less than twenty-four hectares and otherwise qualified to make a homestead entry, may be allowed another homestead which, together with his previous homestead shall not exceed an area of twenty-four hectares.
"Section 20. If at any time after the approval of the application and before the patent is issued, the applicant shall prove to the satisfaction of the Director of Lands that he has complied with all the requirements of the law, but cannot continue with his homestead, through no fault of his own, and there is a bona fide purchaser for the rights and improvements of the applicant on the land, and that the conveyance is not made for purposes of speculations, then the applicant, with the previous approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, may transfer his rights to the land and improvements to any person legally qualified to apply for a homestead, and immediately after such transfer, the purchaser shall file a homestead application to the land so acquired and shall succeed the original homesteader in his rights and obligations beginning with the date of the approval of said application of the purchaser. Any person who has so transferred his rights may not again apply for a new homestead. Every transfer made without the previous approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce shall be null and void and shall result in the cancellation of the entry and the refusal of the patent."
"Section 118. Except in favor of the Government or any of its branches, units, or institutions, lands acquired under free patent or homestead provisions shall not be subject to encumbrance or alienation from the date of the approval of the application and for a term of five years from and after the date of issuance of the patent or grant, nor shall they become liable to the satisfaction of any debt contracted prior to the expiration of said period, but the improvements or crops on the land may be mortgaged or pledged to qualified persons, associations, or corporations.
"No alienation, transfer, or conveyance of any homestead after five years and before twenty-five years after issuance of title shall be valid without the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, which approval shall not be denied except on constitutional and legal grounds."
- Chan Robles Virtual Law Library. Philippine Laws, Statues and Codes. Commonwealth Act No. 456. http://www.chanrobles.com/commonwealthacts/commonwealthactno456.html (accessed May 8, 2008).
- Department of Environment and Natural Resources Land Management Bureau. Market Based Instruments - Homestead. http://lmb.denr.gov.ph/homestead.html (accessed May 8, 2008).
- To learn more about the Philippine legal system, visit the Philippine Legal Database of Filipiniana.net Digital Library.