The importance of land titling
“A CERTIFICATE of title serves as evidence of an indefeasible and incontrovertible title to the property in favor of the person whose names appears therein,” the Supreme Court held in the case of Abobon v. Abobon. “[A]nyone who deals with property registered under the Torrens system may rely on the title and need not go beyond the title.”
In a published article entitled “Land Titling for Inclusive Growth,” Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Ronald U. Mendoza reported that land titling in the Philippines may create positive impact on: (a) the households’ share of total area for long-term crops; (b) housing investment; (c) gender equality and fertility; and (d) the education received by children from families with property rights secured by land titling.
“The productivity of land in any of its uses (whether agricultural or urban/commercial) is dependent on complementary investments in the form of drainage, structures, clearing of stones and trees, and other improvements,” said Gershon Feder and Akihiko Nishio in their article, “The Benefits of Land Registration and Titling: Economics and Social Perspectives.”
“By their nature, these investments yield benefits over time, while the expense of cost and effort is borne up-front.”
“With ownership officially documented and verified, the risk of challenges to ownership is reduced, and the likelihood of having to incur high costs in defending one’s possession of land is lower, incentives to invest are enhanced, and land productivity is increased.”
Nevertheless, only about one-half of the estimated 22 million parcels of land in the country are titled.
“Most of these untitled properties are located in urban and low income settings,” Mendoza wrote in his article. “[A]pproximately 39 million Filipinos stand to benefit from the government’s land titling program.”
“Lack of clear property rights could undermine inclusive growth in various ways. Unclear and unenforceable rights could lead to underinvestment, as the returns from any improvements and investments could be seized by others.”
Undeniably, a system of land registration is important in our country. It is thus well-settled jurisprudence that:
Our country’s Torrens system of land registration has been instituted to combat the problems of uncertainty, complexity and cost associated with old title systems that depended upon proof of an unbroken chain of title back to a good root of title. The State issues an official certificate of title to attest to the fact that the person named is the owner of the property described therein, subject to such liens and encumbrances as therein noted or what the law warrants or reserves.
A person dealing with registered land has a right to rely on its Torrens certificate of title, unless the registration thereof is attended to with bad faith or fraud. This principle dispenses with the need of proving ownership by long complicated documents kept by the registered owner which may be necessary under a private conveyancing system, and assures that all the necessary information regarding ownership is on the certificate of title.
Tax declarations and tax receipts as proof of ownership cannot prevail over a certificate of title. Said documents do not conclusively prove title to the land, but are only positive and strong indication that the taxpayer concerned has made a claim either to the title or to the possession of the property for which taxes have been paid.
A Torrens certificate of title is indefeasible and binding upon the whole world unless it is nullified by a court of competent jurisdiction in a direct proceeding for cancellation of title.
Title to the property covered by a Torrens certificate of title becomes indefeasible after the expiration of one year from the entry of decree of registration. Such decree is incontrovertible and is binding on all persons, whether they were notified of or participated in the registration proceedings.
Sara Mae D. Mawis is an Associate at Esguerra & Blanco Law, and a Lecturer at the College of Law, Adamson University
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.