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Property Rule

Purchasing power over real property

“On weekdays, throngs of Filipino men in the Rizal Park (popularly known as Luneta) congregate near booths of manning agencies which recruit workers to be deployed on foreign ships,” wrote Jean Encinas-Franco of the University of the Philippines-Diliman in her essay, “Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) as Heroes: Discursive Origins of the ‘Bagong Bayani’ in the Era of Labor Export.”

“Unbeknownst to passersby wondering what the commotion is all about, these men belong to the nearly 300,000 Filipino seafarers plying the world’s seas and for whom the phrase kayod marino may have come to be equated with their hard work.”

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According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, there is an estimated number of 2.2 million overseas Filipino workers as of the third quarter in 2016.

The OFWs’ occupation groups are largely comprised of: elementary occupations (34.5 percent); service and sales workers (19 percent); plant and machine operators and assemblers (12.8 percent); and craft and related trades workers (11.6 percent).

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Said former Presidential Deputy Spokesperson Charito Planas in connection with the Malcañang’s tribute to OFWs: “…OFWs are our modern-day heroes who serve well their foreign employers as office staff, laborers, domestic helpers, caregivers, teachers, nurses, and doctors for the betterment of the lives of their families whom they chose to leave behind.”

Many OFWs choose to remit a portion of their savings to buying their dream home —whether it is a house and lot, a condominium unit, or a parcel of land, in order to provide more for their families.

They usually remit savings as downpayment by December, after deciding to buy their dream home, Enrique Soriano III, Program Director for Real Estate at the Ateneo de Manila University School of Business said in an interview with online real estate marketplace Lamudi.

Whether as natural-born Filipino citizens or naturalized foreign citizens, OFWs are eligible to acquire land in the Philippines.

In fact, Article XII, Sections 7 and 8 of the Constitution states that: (a) no private lands shall be transferred or conveyed except to, among others, Filipino citizens who are qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain; and (b) 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.

On the contrary, in Freznel v. Catito, the Supreme Court held that aliens, whether individuals or corporations, are disqualified from acquiring lands of the public domain and private lands.

The Condominium Act expressly allows foreigners to acquire condo units and shares in condo corporations up to not more than 40 percent of the total and outstanding capital stock of a Filipino-owned or controlled corporation.

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OFWs unable to execute in the Philippines the appropriate contract for the transfer of the subject private land must first execute a special power of attorney authorizing another person to act in his behalf in facilitating the transfer of said land.

Such OFWs must subscribe and swear on his special power of attorney before the consul of the country he is located in.

To be sure, the Supreme Court held in Yoshizaki v. Joy Training Center of Aurora, Inc. that a contract of agency must be written for the validity of the sale of a piece of land or any interest therein. Otherwise, the sale shall be void. Moreover, special powers of attorney are necessary to convey real rights over immovable properties.

The purpose of the law in requiring a special power of attorney in the disposition of the immovable property is to protect the interest of an unsuspecting owner from being prejudiced by the unwarranted act of another and to caution the buyer to assure himself of the specific authorization of the putative agent.

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TAGS: Filipino seafarers, Labor Export, overseas Filipino workers, Real Property
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