MATALAM, COTABATO - Three hundred beneficiaries from Matalam, Cotabato Province on Friday, September 13, were awarded ownership over the agricultural lands they occupied for years through the "Handog Titulo" program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 12 in partnership with the local government unit (LGU) of Matalam and Registry of Deeds (ROD).

No less than DENR 12 Regional Executive Director Dr. Sabdullah C. Abubacar, CESO IV together with Matalam Mayor Oscar M. Valdevieso, Atty. Ma. Theresa Biongan Pescadera of the ROD, Matalam Community ENR Officer Larry P. Curias, Licenses, Patents and Deeds Division (LPDD) Chief Emily B. Ampatuan and PENRO Cotabato Technical Services Division Chief Dr. Cesar Guevarra handed over the titles to the beneficiaries from the barangays of Sarayan, Tamped, Pinamaton and Taguranao.

Dr. Abubacar said that the program is one of the 10-Point Socio-Economic Agenda of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to ensure security of land tenure to encourage investments and address bottlenecks in the land management and titling agencies.

The program started in 1990 and enhanced by DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu when he issued the DENR Memorandum Circular No. 2019-04 on August 1, 2019 to conduct a nationwide Handog Titulo program every September in celebration of the Lands Anniversary.

"It is expected that there will be a distribution of land titles here in Region 12 every September," Dr. Abubacar said.

In a statement, Dr. Abubacar emphasized that lands should have titles in order to have a security of ownership.

"Titles will serve also as a basis in creating future investments in your lands since you are the legitimate owner," Dr. Abubacar said to the beneficiaries.

He also encouraged those who don't have the land titles to visit the nearest DENR offices like the CENRO for assistance.

According to LPDD Chief Ampatuan, the agency released the DENR Administrative Order 2011-06 entitled "Prescribing the Guidelines for the Implementation of Public Land Titling in Partnership with Local Government Units" which was supported by the Department of Interior and Local Government by releasing the DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2011-111 to speed up the processing of public land titling.

“This is one way to bring the public service closer to the people,” Chief Ampatuan said.

On his part, Mayor Valdevieso expressed his gratitude to the DENR 12 headed by Dr. Abubacar for all the support they have given to his municipality.

Meanwhile, Atty. Pescadera shared their desire to immediately distribute the land titles to the beneficiaries.

"We don't want the titles to remain in our vaults. We want you to hold those titles," said Atty. Pescadera in her message.

She also reminded the recipients not to forget their obligations by paying taxes in the LGU.

The government's Handog Titulo program aims to further the processing and issuance of public land patents to qualified beneficiaries.

It is also an initiative to enhance the allocation of land titles to alleviate poverty and promote growth and advancement. ###