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B. Agrarian Titles and Ancestral Lands and Domains

1. Concept and registration of agrarian titles


Agrarian Reform – means redistribution of lands, regardless of crops or fruits produced, to farmers and regular farmworkers who are landless, irrespective of tenurial arrangement, to include the totality of factors and support services designed to lift the economic status of the beneficiaries and all other arrangements alternative to the physical redistribution of lands, such as production or profit-sharing, labor administration, and the distribution of shares of stocks, which will allow beneficiaries to receive a just share of the fruits of the lands they work. (Section 3[a], R.A. Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, as amended by R.A. 9700)

Agricultural Land – refers to land devoted to agricultural activity as defined in this Act and not classified as mineral, forest, residential, commercial or industrial land. (Section 3[c], Ibid.)

Farmer – refers to a natural person whose primary livelihood is cultivation of land or the production of agricultural crops, livestock and/or fisheries either by himself/herself, or primarily with the assistance of his/her immediate farm household, whether the land is owned by him/her, or by another person under a leasehold or share tenancy agreement or arrangement with the owner thereof. (Section 3[f], Ibid.)

Farmworker – is a natural person who renders service for value as an employee or laborer in an agricultural enterprise or farm regardless of whether his compensation is paid on a daily, weekly, monthly or “pakyaw” basis. The term includes an individual whose work has ceased as a consequence of, or in connection with, a pending agrarian dispute and who has not obtained a substantially equivalent and regular farm employment. (Section 3[g], Ibid.)

Cooperatives – shall refer to organizations composed primarily of small agricultural producers, farmers, farmworkers, or other agrarian reform beneficiaries who voluntarily organize themselves for the purpose of pooling land, human, technological, financial or other economic resources, and operated on the principle of one member, one vote. A juridical person may be a member of a cooperative, with the same rights and duties as a natural person. (Section 3[k], Ibid.)


The following lands are covered by the CARP:

1) All alienable and disposable lands of the public domain devoted to or suitable for agriculture. No reclassification of forest or mineral lands to agricultural lands shall be undertaken after the approval of this Act until Congress, taking into account ecological, developmental and equity considerations, shall have determined by law, the specific limits of the public domain;

2) All lands of the public domain in excess of the specific limits as determined by Congress in the preceding paragraph;

3) All other lands owned by the Government devoted to or suitable for agriculture; and

4) All private lands devoted to or suitable for agriculture regardless of the agricultural products raised or that can be raised thereon. (Section 4, Ibid.)


1) 5 ha. limitation

Except as otherwise provided in this Act, no person may own or retain, directly or indirectly, any public or private agricultural land, the size of which shall vary according to factors governing a viable family-size farm, such as commodity produced, terrain, infrastructure, and soil fertility as determined by the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) created hereunder, but in no case shall retention by the landowner exceed five (5) hectares. (Section 6, Ibid.)

Three (3) hectares may be awarded to each child of the landowner, subject to the following qualifications: (1) that he is at least fifteen (15) years of age; and (2) that he is actually tilling the land or directly managing the farm: provided, that landowners whose lands have been covered by P.D. No. 27 shall be allowed to keep the areas originally retained by them thereunder: provided, further, that original homestead grantees or their direct compulsory heirs who still own the original homestead at the time of the approval of this Act shall retain the same areas as long as they continue to cultivate said homestead. (Ibid.)

a) Right to choose area to be retained

The right to choose the area to be retained, which shall be compact or contiguous, shall pertain to the landowner: provided, however, that in case the area selected for retention by the landowner is tenanted, the tenant shall have the option to choose whether to remain therein or be a beneficiary in the same or another agricultural land with similar or comparable features. (Paragraph 2, Section 6, Ibid.)

In case the tenant chooses to remain in the retained area, he shall be considered a leaseholder and shall lose his right to be a beneficiary under the law.( Ibid.)

In case the tenant chooses to be a beneficiary in another agricultural land, he loses his right as a leaseholder to the land retained by the landowner. The tenant must exercise this option within a period of one (1) year from the time the landowner manifests his choice of the area for retention. (Ibid.)

2) Exception to retention limits

Provincial, city and municipal government units acquiring private agricultural lands by expropriation or other modes of acquisition to be used for actual, direct and exclusive public purposes, such as roads and bridges, public markets, school sites, resettlement sites, local government facilities, public parks and barangay plazas or squares, consistent with the approved local comprehensive land use plan, shall not be subject to the five (5)-hectare retention limit under Section 6-A and Sections 70 and 73(a) of R.A. 6657, as amended: Provided, That lands subject to CARP shall first undergo the land acquisition and distribution process of the program: Provided, further, That when these lands have been subjected to expropriation, the agrarian reform beneficiaries therein shall be paid just compensation.” (Section 6-A, Ibid.)


In determining just compensation, the cost of acquisition of the land, the value of the standing crop, the current value of like properties, its nature, actual use and income, the sworn valuation by the owner, the tax declarations, the assessment made by government assessors, and seventy percent (70%) of the zonal valuation of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), translated into a basic formula by the DAR shall be considered, subject to the final decision of the proper court. (Section 17, Ibid.)


1) 3 ha. limitation

Beneficiaries shall be awarded an area not exceeding three (3) hectares, which may cover a contiguous tract of land or several parcels of land cumulated up to the prescribed award limits. The determination of the size of the land for distribution shall consider crop type, soil type, weather patterns and other pertinent variables or factors which are deemed critical for the success of the beneficiaries. (Section 25, Ibid.)

A landless beneficiary – is one who owns less than three (3) hectares of agricultural land. (Paragraph 2, Section 25, Ibid.)

2) Land titles

a) In General: Individual title

In general, the land awarded to a farmer-beneficiary should be in the form of an individual title, covering one (1) contiguous tract or several parcels of land cumulated up to a maximum of three (3) hectares. (Paragraph 4, Section 25, Ibid.)

b) Alternative: Collective ownership titles

The beneficiaries may opt for collective ownership, such as co-ownership or farmers cooperative or some other form of collective organization and for the issuance of collective ownership titles: Provided, That the total area that may be awarded shall not exceed the total number of co-owners or members of the cooperative or collective organization multiplied by the award limit above prescribed, except in meritorious cases as determined by the PARC. (Paragraph 5, Section 25, Ibid.)

For idle and abandoned lands or underdeveloped agricultural lands to be covered by CARP, collective ownership shall be allowed only if the beneficiaries opt for it and there is a clear development plan that would require collective farming or integrated farm operations exhibiting the conditions described above. (Paragraph 7, Section 25, Ibid.)

Otherwise, the land awarded to a farmer-beneficiary should be in the form of an individual title, covering one (1) contiguous tract or several parcels of land cumulated up to a maximum of three (3) hectares. (Ibid.)

In case of collective ownership, title to the property shall be issued in the name of the co-owners or the cooperative or collective organization as the case may be. If the certificates of land ownership award are given to cooperatives then the names of the beneficiaries must also be listed in the same certificate of land ownership award. (Paragraph 8, Section 25, Ibid.)

2. Concept and registration of ancestral lands and domains


Ancestral Domains – Subject property rights within the ancestral domains already existing and/or vested upon effectivity of R.A. 8371 which shall be recognized and respected, refer to all areas generally belonging to ICCs/IPs comprising lands, inland waters, coastal areas, and natural resources therein, held under a claim of ownership, occupied or possessed by ICCs/IPs, themselves or through their ancestors, communally or individually since time immemorial, continuously to the present except when interrupted by war, force majeure or displacement by force, deceit, stealth or as a consequence of government projects or any other voluntary dealings entered into by government and private individuals, corporations, and which are necessary to ensure their economic, social and cultural welfare. (Section 3[a], R.A. 8371, The Indigenous Peoples Right Act fo 1997)

It shall include ancestral land, forests, pasture, residential, agricultural, and other lands individually owned whether alienable and disposable or otherwise, hunting grounds, burial grounds, worship areas, bodies of water, mineral and other natural resources, and lands which may no longer be exclusively occupied by ICCs/IPs but from which their traditionally had access to for their subsistence and traditional activities, particularly the home ranges of ICCs/IPs who are still nomadic and/or shifting cultivators. (Ibid.)

Ancestral Lands – Subject property rights within the ancestral domains already existing and/or vested upon effectivity of R.A. 8371 which shall be recognized and respected, refers to land occupied, possessed and utilized by individuals, families and clans who are members of the ICCs/IPs since time immemorial, by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest, under claims of individual or traditional group ownership, continuously, to the present except when interrupted by war, force majeure or displacement by force, deceit, stealth, or as a consequence of government projects and other voluntary dealings entered into by government and private individuals / corporations, including, but not limited to, residential lots, rice terraces or paddies, private forests, swidden farms and tree lots. (Section 3[b], Ibid.)

Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title – refers to a title formally recognizing the rights of possession and ownership of ICCs/IPs over their ancestral domains identified and delineated in accordance with this law. (Section 3[c], Ibid.)

Certificate of Ancestral Lands Title – refers to a title formally recognizing the rights of ICCs/IPs over their ancestral lands. (Section 3[d], Ibid.)

Communal Claims – refer to claims on land, resources and rights thereon, belonging to the whole community within a defined territory. (Section 3[e], Ibid.)

Customary Laws – refer to a body of written and/or unwritten rules, usages, customs and practices traditionally and continually recognized, accepted and observed by respective ICCs/Ips. (Section 3[f], Ibid.)

Free and Prior Informed Consent –shall mean the consensus of all members of the ICCs/IPs to; be determined in accordance with their respective customary laws and practices, free from any external manipulation, interference and coercion, and obtained after fully disclosing the intent and scope of the activity, in a language an process understandable to the community. (Section 3[g], Ibid.)

Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples – refer to a group of people or homogenous societies identified by self-ascription and ascription by other, who have continuously lived as organized community on communally bounded and defined territory, and who have, under claims of ownership since time immemorial, occupied, possessed customs, tradition and other distinctive cultural traits, or who have, through resistance to political, social and cultural inroads of colonization, non-indigenous religions and culture, became historically differentiated from the majority of Filipinos. ICCs/IPs shall likewise include peoples who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, at the time of conquest or colonization, or at the time of inroads of non-indigenous religions and cultures, or the establishment of present state boundaries, who retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions, but who may have been displaced from their traditional domains or who may have resettled outside their ancestral domains. (Section 3[h], Ibid.)

Indigenous Political Structure – refer to organizational and cultural leadership systems, institutions, relationships, patterns and processed for decision-making and participation, identified by ICCs/IPs such as, but not limited to, Council of Elders, Council of Timuays, Bodong Holder, or any other tribunal or body of similar nature. (Section 3[i], Ibid.)

Individual Claims – refer to claims on land and rights thereon which have been devolved to individuals, families and clans including, but not limited to, residential lots, rice terraces or paddies and tree lots. (Section 3[j], Ibid.)

Native Title – refers to pre-conquest rights to lands and domains which, as far back as memory reaches, have been held under a claim of private ownership by ICCs/IPs, have never been public lands and are thus indisputably presumed to have been held that way since before the Spanish Conquest. (Section 3[l], Ibid.)

People’s Organization – refers to a private, nonprofit voluntary organization of members of an ICC/IP which is accepted as representative of such ICCs/IPs. (Section 3[n], Ibid.)

Sustainable Traditional Resource Rights – refer to the rights of ICCs/IPs to sustainably use,manage, protect and conserve a) land, air, water, and minerals; b) plants, animals and other organisms; c) collecting, fishing and hunting grounds; d) sacred sites; and e) other areas of economic, ceremonial and aesthetic value in accordance with their indigenous knowledge, beliefs, systems and practices. (Section 3[o], Ibid.)

Time Immemorial – refers to a period of time when as far back as memory can go, certain ICCs/IPs are known to have occupied, possessed in the concept of owner, and utilized a defined territory devolved to them, by operation of customary law or inherited from their ancestors, in accordance with their customs and traditions. (Section 3[p], Ibid.)


1) Concept of ancestral lands/domains

Ancestral lands/domains shall include such concepts of territories which cover not only the physical environment but the total environment including the spiritual and cultural bonds to the area which the ICCs/IPs possess, occupy and use and to which they have claims of ownership. (Section 4, Ibid.)

a) Indigenous Concept of Ownership

Indigenous concept of ownership sustains the view that ancestral domains and all resources found therein shall serve as the material bases of their cultural integrity. The indigenous concept of ownership generally holds that ancestral domains are the ICC’s/IP’s private but community property which belongs to all generations and therefore cannot be sold, disposed or destroyed. It likewise covers sustainable traditional resource rights. (Section 5, Ibid.)

b) Composition of Ancestral Lands/Domains

Ancestral lands and domains shall consist of all areas generally belonging to ICCs/IPs as referred under Sec. 3, items (a) and (b) of this Act. (Section 6, Ibid.)

2) Rights to Ancestral Domains

The rights of ownership and possession of ICCs/IPs t their ancestral domains shall be recognized and protected. Such rights shall include:

1) Rights of ownership

The right to claim ownership over lands, bodies of water traditionally and actually occupied by ICCs/IPs, sacred places, traditional hunting and fishing grounds, and all improvements made by them at any time within the domains. (Section 7[a], Ibid.)

2) Right to develop lands and natural Resources

Subject property rights within the ancestral domains already existing and/or vested upon effectivity of R.A. 8371 which shall be recognized and respected, right to develop, control and use lands and territories traditionally occupied, owned, or used; to manage and conserve natural resources within the territories and uphold the responsibilities for future generations; to benefit and share the profits from allocation and utilization of the natural resources found therein; the right to negotiate the terms and conditions for the exploration of natural resources in the areas for the purpose of ensuring ecological, environmental protection and the conservation measures, pursuant to national and customary laws; the right to an informed and intelligent participation in the formulation and implementation of any project, government or private, that will affect or impact upon the ancestral domains and to receive just and fair compensation for any damages which they sustain as a result of the project; and the right to effective measures by the government to prevent any interfere with, alienation and encroachment upon these rights. (Section 7[b], Ibid.)

3) Right to stay in the territories and not be removed

No ICCs/IPs will be relocated without their free and prior informed consent, nor through any means other than eminent domain. (Section 7[c], Ibid.)

Where relocation is considered necessary as an exceptional measure, such relocation shall take place only with the free and prior informed consent of the ICCs/IPs concerned and whenever possible, they shall be guaranteed the right to return to their ancestral domains, as soon as the grounds for relocation cease to exist. When such return is not possible, as determined by agreement or through appropriate procedures, ICCs/IPs shall be provided in all possible cases with lands of quality and legal status at least equal to that of the land previously occupied by them, suitable to provide for their present needs and future development. (Ibid.)

Persons thus relocated shall likewise be fully compensated for any resulting loss or injury. (Ibid.)

4) Right in case of displacement

In case displacement occurs as a result of natural catastrophes, the State shall endeavor to resettle the displaced ICCs/IPs in suitable areas where they can have temporary life support system: Provided, That the displaced ICCs/IPs shall have the right to return to their abandoned lands until such time that the normalcy and safety of such lands shall be determined: Provided, further, That should their ancestral domain cease to exist and normalcy and safety of the previous settlements are not possible, displaced ICCs/IPs shall enjoy security of tenure over lands to which they have been resettled: Provided, furthermore, That basic services and livelihood shall be provided to them to ensure that their needs are adequately addressed. (Section 7[d], Ibid.)

5) Right to regulate entry of migrants

Right to regulate the entry of migrant settlers and organizations into the domains. (Section 7[e], Ibid.)

6) Right to safe and clean air and water

The ICCs/IPs shall have access to integrated systems for the management of their inland waters and air space. (Section 7[f], Ibid.)

7) Right to claim parts of reservations

The right to claim parts of the ancestral domains which have been reserved for various purposes, except those reserved and intended for common and public welfare and service. (Section 7[g], Ibid.)

8) Right to resolve conflict

Right to resolve land conflicts in accordance with customary laws of the area where the land is located, and only in default thereof shall the complaints be submitted to amicable settlement and to the Courts of Justice whenever necessary. (Section 7[h], Ibid.)

3) Rights to Ancestral Lands

The right of ownership and possession of the ICCs/IPs, to their ancestral lands shall be recognized and protected. (Section 8, Ibid.)

1) Right to transfer land/property

Such right shall include the right to transfer land or property rights to/among members of the same ICCs/IPs, subject to customary laws and traditions of the community concerned. (Section 8[a], Ibid.)

2) Right to Redemption

In cases where it is shown that the transfer of land/property rights by virtue of any agreement or devise, to a non-member of the concerned ICCs/IPs is tainted by the vitiated consent of the ICCs/IPs,or is transferred for an unconscionable consideration or price, the transferor ICC/IP shall have the right to redeem the same within a period not exceeding fifteen (15) years from the date of transfer. (Section 8[b], Ibid.)

4) Unauthorized and Unlawful Intrusion

Unauthorized and unlawful intrusion upon, or use of any portion of the ancestral domain, or any violation of the rights herein before enumerated, shall be punishable under the law. Furthermore, the Government shall take measures to prevent non-ICCs/IPs from taking advantage of the ICCs/IPs customs or lack of understanding of laws to secure ownership, possession of land belonging to said ICCs/IPs. (Section 10, Ibid.)

5) Recognition of Ancestral Domain Rights

The rights of ICCs/IPs to their ancestral domains by virtue of Native Title shall be recognized and respected. Formal recognition, when solicited by ICCs/IPs concerned, shall be embodied in a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT), which shall recognize the title of the concerned ICCs/IPs over the territories identified and delineated. (Section 11, Ibid.)

a) Option to secure Certificate of Title under Commonwealth Act 141, as amended, or the Land Registration Act 496

Individual members of cultural communities, with respect to individually-owned ancestral lands who, by themselves or through their predecessors-in -interest, have been in continuous possession and occupation of the same in the concept of owner since the immemorial or for a period of not less than thirty (30) years immediately preceding the approval of this Act and uncontested by the members of the same ICCs/IPs shall have the option to secure title to their ancestral lands under the provisions of Commonwealth Act 141, as amended, or the Land Registration Act 496. (Section 12, Ibid.)

For this purpose, said individually-owned ancestral lands, which are agricultural in character and actually used for agricultural, residential, pasture, and tree farming purposes, including those with a slope of eighteen percent (18%) or more, are hereby classified as alienable and disposable agricultural lands. (Paragraph 2, Section 12, Ibid.)

The option granted under this Section shall be exercised within twenty (20) years from the approval of this Act. (Paragraph 3, Section 12, Ibid.)

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