The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has amended certain provisions on land-use conversion to avoid conversions of agricultural lands without DAR conversion clearance and to adapt to the new normal brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic through Administrative Order (AO) No. 3, Series of 2021.
“The new normal requires the adoption of alternative modes to ensure the continuous delivery of services under the agrarian reform mandate,” DAR Secretary Brother John Castriciones said.
The DAR chief said that the application for conversion must be duly verified by the landowner or the landowner’s authorized representative and should contain certifications attesting that all supporting documents were issued by the proper agencies.
The AO specified that application for conversions may be filed either personally, where the applicants are required to furnish the department with a hard or printed copy complete with documentary requirements; or by way of electronic filing (e-filing).
“If the applicant chooses to file his application online, the applicant must furnish the Department with a soft or electronic copy of the application with the corresponding annexes thru the Land Use Cases Division (LUCD)-Bureau of Agrarian Legal Assistance (BALA), in case the land applied for conversion is more than five (5) hectares, or to the concerned Regional Office if the land applied for conversion is 5 hectares and below,” Castriciones said.
Castriciones said the electronic copy of the application and its annexes will be accepted only in Portable Document Format (PDF).
He stressed that the date and time of receipt of the electronic application as indicated in the time-stamp of the e-mail shall be considered as the date and time of the filing of said application. For e-filing to be considered as officially filed, the e-mail must be sent to the official e-mail address of the LUCD-BALA or concerned Regional Office.
Castriciones disclosed that the landowner or the authorized representative needs to file an application bond to guarantee against premature conversion over the subject agricultural land and to ensure that the applicant shall only submit true and correct information in support of his application.
“In cases of non-acceptance of an incomplete application, the Land Use Conversion Division or the Regional Land Use Committee Secretariat will issue a written statement or certificate and an e-mail response or electronic notice (with time-stamp duly-recorded), specifically stating the deficiencies or reasons for the non-acceptance and return of the application within (5) working days from the filing of the application for conversion which shall form part of the records of the application,” he said.
“Payment of filing fee, inspection cost, and the posting of bond (cash), related to electronic filing of application or appeal (in case of denial of the concerned Regional Director) will be collected through online banking and deposited to the Bureau of Treasury (BTr) accounts to be provided by the DAR Central Office or concerned Regional Office which shall include an online assessment on the amount to be deposited and the specific account where the amount shall be deposited,” he said.
He emphasized that if a Conversion Order is granted and has become final and executory, the landowner within three (3) days upon receipt of the Order is directed to communicate in writing to the Register of Deeds (ROD) where the land is located for proper annotation on the Certificate of Title of the converted land.