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Who can own lands in the Philippines?

As a general rule only Filipino citizens and Corporations/Partnerships where at least 60% of the Authorized Capital Stocks (ACS) of which is owned by Filipino citizens.

However the following are the cases wherein the abovementioned rule can be excused:

  1. Property is acquired prior to the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution;
  2. Acquisition by hereditary succession being the legal heir
  3. Acquisition of not more than 40% interest in a condominium project pursuant to R.A. 4726;
  4. Former natural born citizen of the Philippines who became a citizen of another country but is now returning to the Philippines to reside permanently, subject to limitations under BP 185 and RA 8179;
  5. Filipina who marries an foreigner but retains her Philippine citizenship can acquire and own land;

From the above enumeration, the 1987 Constitution, Article XII has laid down two sections to justify some of the above exceptions:


SECTION 7. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.
SECTION 8. Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 7 of this Article, a natural-born citizen of the Philippines who has lost his Philippine citizenship may be a transferee of private lands, subject to limitations provided by law.

 Who are natural and natural born citizens?

Natural citizens of the Philippines are:

  • Citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of the 1987 Constitution
  • Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines (any parent)
  • Those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority (18 years old) – born anywhere in the world

Natural born citizens are those:

  • Born in the Philippines
  • Those born of Filipino mothers and non-Filipino father who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority
  • Naturalized under Naturalization Law
  • Citizens of the Philippines who marry aliens but have not renounced their Phil. Citizenship
  • Those who acquired dual citizenship
  • Those who acquired derivative (origin or descent) citizenship
  • The unmarried child, legitimate or not or adopted, below 18 years of age, of those who re-acquire Philippine citizenship upon effectivity of this Act shall be deemed citizens of the Philippines.
  • Section 7 of Art. XII of 1987 Constitution states that a natural born citizen of the Philippines who has lost his Phil. citizenship may be a transferee of private lands subject to limitations provided by law

 Rules regarding former natural born Filipino citizens acquiring lands in the Philippines

Mode of acquisition may be through both voluntary deeds (sale or donation) and involuntary deeds (foreclosure, execution, tax delinquency sale)

Area allowed (maximum)

  1. If the purpose is for residence:
  • 1,000 square meters of urban land
  • 1 hectare of rural land

2.If the purpose is for business

(refers to the use of land primarily, directly and actually in the conduct of business or commercial activities in the broad areas of agriculture, industry and services, including the lease of land but excluding the buying and selling thereof)

  • 5,000 square meters of urban land
  • 3 hectares of rural land

A transferee who acquired urban or rural land for residential purpose while still a Filipino citizen may acquire additional urban or rural land for residential purpose which, when added to that already owned shall not exceed the maximum area allowed by law. It shall also apply to a transferee who already owns urban or rural land for business purpose while still a Filipino citizen.

A transferee who has already acquired urban land for residential purpose shall be disqualified to acquire rural land for residential purpose and vice versa.

A transferee of residential land under BP 185 may still avail of the right to acquire land for business purpose under RA 8179.

*In case of married couples where both are former natural born Filipino citizens, both of them may avail provided that the total acquisition shall not exceed the maximum area allowed.

Can aliens acquire lands in the Philippines?

General rule: Aliens are not qualified to acquire land in the Philippines.

Exceptions:

  • Aliens may acquire private land by inheritance
  • PD 713 (May 27, 1975) Allows Americans who were formerly Filipino citizens, Americans who became permanent residents of the Philippines and Americans who have resided in the Philippines continuously for at least 20 years and are in good faith had acquired private residential lands for family dwelling purposes in the Philippines prior to July 3, 1974 to continue holding such lands and transfer ownership over the same to qualified persons or entities.
  • BP 8179 (March 16, 1982)Former natural born citizens of the Philippines who has lost his citizenship may be transferee of a private land up to a maximum area of 1,000sqm in case of urban land and 1 hectare for rural to be used as his residence; In case of married couples, only one may avail and if both the total area should not exceed the maximum herein fixed
  • RA 8179 (March 28, 1996) 5,000sqm urban land/ 3 hectares rural land for business or other purposes
  • RA 9225 (August 29, 2003) Aliens may re-acquire Filipino citizenship

References:

1987 Constitution of the Philippines

See Borromeo vs. Descallar, G.R. No. 159310, February 24, 2009

De Leon, H., & De Leon, J. H. (2011). Comments and Cases on Property. Quezon City: Rex Printing Company, Inc.

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