Land buyers warned against flawed titles
The Philippine Star
Updated April 12, 2010 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – In the wake of the recent land fiasco in Cebu, the Consumers Union of the Philippines (CUP) warned land buyers and investors to protect themselves against flawed titles by at least verifying the location of the titled land being sold.
The Cebu provincial government was recently reported as having bought a 25-hectare property in Naga, Cebu, some 20 hectares of which the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) found to be timberlands partly submerged at sea, and for which reversion and title cancellation proceedings are reportedly being pursued.
Cebu government authorities were reported as saying that no survey was made because they relied on the Torrens system of land registration where the certificate of title serves as proof of ownership.
In a statement, CUP chairman Ambassador Raul Goco, former Solicitor-General, said: â€œWe hope this serves as yet another lesson to the land buying public that beyond mere reliance on a certificate of title, a much higher degree of prudence is required, in the light of countless questionable titles that have been circulating in the market for decades.â€
â€œUnder the established rules and doctrines that underpin the Torrens system, two things must concur: first, proof of ownership; and second, proof of identity of the land.â€
â€œWe strongly urge the land buying public to pay closer attention to the technical descriptions that every certificate of title is required to contain, for this is the means by which one could ascertain the titled landâ€™s identity – meaning its exact location, configuration, size and metes and bounds.â€
â€œIn many instances, land buyers hardly pay any attention to these technical descriptions, and thus are duped into buying worthless land found at the bottom of ravines, or overlapping other properties, or as in the Cebu incident, timberlands that cannot be subject of private ownership in the first place unless released as alienable by the DENR.â€
â€œOthers rely merely on vicinity sketches which can be dangerously misleading, as these may not really show the accurate geographic position of the land or the technical defects of the titleâ€.
Goco said that the Cebu fiasco may have been avoided if, prior to buying, the authorities simply plotted and mapped the land based on the titleâ€™s technical descriptions, which could have been undertaken in just a few minutes at negligible cost.
â€œReliable computerized mapping services to accurately locate and evaluate a titled property anywhere in the country already exist, foremost of which is the pioneering GIS parcellary mapping service of the Chamber of Real Estate and Buildersâ€™ Associations (CREBA) at www.mapsys.phâ€, Goco said.
Goco said that with such services already available to anyone anywhere, there should no longer be any excuse to still fall into the sad predicament in which the Cebu authorities, and even seasoned land dealers before them, had found themselves.
â€œThere is much that Government must do to protect public interest; but the individual must contribute his share by complying with the requirements of due diligenceâ€, Goco added.