LGU fails to tackle fake titles-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
A BAGUIO City Council inquiry on the state of "unvalidated" Civil Registration No. 211 titles in Baguio was able to shed light on lapses of some government agencies in declaring the titles null and void.
First, the Land Registration Authority has not moved since the cut-off period of February 1987 to cancel unvalidated 211 titles and second, the Office of Solicitor General was not able to file a single case to revert these titles to the ownership of government.
This resulted in the current land woes in the city and according to City Environment and Natural Resources Officer Edgardo Flor created a backlog of pending Townsite Sales Applications and Miscellaneous Sales Applications citing the office cannot act on the applications while the titles exist.
Recently, 211 titles also figured in a reversion case the city government is pursuing after 22 derivative titles were allegedly issued inside the Busol reservation. These were issued by the former Baguio Registry of Deeds despite these titles not being validated by the Land Registration Authority.
If City Hall was not able to look at the inconsistencies of these questionable titles issued only last June, the owners of these titles would have already started developing a sizeable portion of the forest reservation which must have never been in the first place been titled.
Acting Registry of Deeds Guerrero Felipe, however, said the documents which prompted their previous issuance of the alleged questionable titles were faked.
Among the invited resource persons at the Sangguniang Panlungsod last Monday were Flor, Felipe and City Legal Officer Melchor Carlos Rabanes.
Rabanes said they are now in the process of asking the Solictor General to revert these titles in line with provisions of Presidential Decree 1271 nullifying these unvalidated 211 titles in the then Baguio Townsite Reservation.
Once reverted, the titles will go back as a public land and form part of government reservation. These lands classified as alienable and disposable will again be opened for applications through TSAs and MSAs.
Felipe, meanwhile, said they are still accepting from time to time upon recommendations from the committee composed of the Department of Justice and Land Registration Authority to validate these titles.
But he stressed after assuming post this year, he is no longer accepting any transactions to validate these 211 titles.
Now the dilemma falls into the hands of those who own these questionable titles after city legislators warned potential buyers to be extra cautious.
According to Flor, 211 titles cover some 11, 500,000 square meters in Baguio City covered by some 8,500 titles with 6,000 titles with applications for validation comprising of some 4,000 titles validated and some 2,000 titles still pending.
Flor added the problem also falls with title holders with unknown addresses and have failed to comply with requirements through the years.
But Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda asked invited resource persons during Monday’s regular session on how these titles still exist citing the cut-off period for validating these titles lapsed 26 years ago.
Tabanda stressed the 26 years given to validate these titles is even too long and said it is time to declare the titles null and void while others should have been surrendered in favor of the government.
But Flor said titles being processed after the 1987 cut-off were given exemptions to validation such as areas outside public or quasi reservations, military reserve or outside government properties and owners of titles who paid 15 percent of assessed value.
Councilors were tasked by Vice Mayor Daniel Fariñas to craft resolutions in the next regular session next month to start resolving one of the causes of land problems in the city.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 24, 2013.