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FEATURE STORY

Philippines: Land Titling Made Easy

July 20, 2011

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Land titling in the Philippines has been a tedious and expensive process, thus discouraging many landowners from registering their lands
  • Under the Second Land Administration and Management Project (LAMP2), land registration process is simplified
  • With technical assistance from AusAID and funding from the World Bank, LAMP2 is the second phase of a program of the Philippine Government to improve land titling

TAGBILARAN, BOHOL, JULY 20, 2011—Emiliana Merencillo, a former Barangay Captain in Antequera, has seven land titles in four barangays that, she says, took only one month each to be processed. Flaviano Jubale, 101 years old, proudly displayed seven titles for land he had held informally for decades.

“With ownership papers, landholders are more secure. They can now use it as collateral for a loan,” says Ms. Racho Glicerita Racho, Chief of the Operations Unit of the Provincial Project Implementation Office (PPIO) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that oversees the Second Land Administration and Management Project (LAMP2).

Rufino Abucay Sr., another Barangay Captain who now has two titles to his name, gushes, “We are grateful to LAMP2 because the titles are being processed quickly.”

Since 2007, in the province of Bohol, a silent revolution has taken place. Teams of personnel from the PPIO of the DENR have panned out to half of the province’s municipalities offering to help residents register their lands and acquire their certificates of land titles for a very small fee under LAMP2.

Technology works

Landholders know how tedious and expensive the land titling process can be. One needs to hire a lawyer, get the documents together, pay for a cadastral survey, and follow up at the capital as the bureaucracy grinds its wheels in a process that takes one to two years, or more. Many, discouraged by the red-tape, have not bothered to register their lands, banking instead on the Deed of Sale and/or Tax Declarations indicating that they have paid their land taxes, if sporadically, as proof of land ownership.

The offer of the PPIO’s intrepid Systematic Adjudication Teams (SAT) was, therefore, hard to refuse.

LAMP2 has generated over 68,000 applications for land titles in Bohol, way over the target of 51,735. As of May 2011, some 38,314 land titles have already been distributed. The project covers 24 municipalities, plus eight more that are LGU-led and funded.

“I am confident that all land titles will be distributed by October 2011,” says PENRO Nestor Canda, the LAMP2 Project Manager in Bohol. “The technology works.”

Cheap and fast

Developed with technical assistance from AusAID and funding from the World Bank, LAMP2 is the second phase of an ambitious program of the Philippine Government to improve the land titling and administration system and increase security of land tenure through a system of “clear, transparent, coherent and consistent policies and laws supported by an appropriate institutional structure.”

“LAMP unifies all land titling efforts by the courts, the Department of Agrarian Reform, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, local government agencies and others under one system in a systematic approach”, says Mr. Canda.

LAMP unifies all land titling efforts by the courts, the Department of Agrarian Reform, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, local government agencies and others under one system in a systematic approach.

Backed by computer-generated maps with technical descriptions, downloadable judicial forms, and municipal satellite offices, LAMP2 sends out 17-man SATs that saturate the target areas, working with LGUs and other agencies to screen applicants and facilitate the process of land titling.

LAMP2’s requirements are simple: proof of ownership or possession of the land for at least 30 years such as tax receipts or a Deed of Sale; and the land must be classified as alienable and disposable.

The SATs process the claims, throwing in a free cadastral survey, when necessary. SAT leader Carmencita Mar adds, “Sometimes, when the tiller is not the owner, we write or send a text message to the owners who are away to inquire if they would like to send a Special Power of Attorney in favor of the tenant. We even prepare the affidavits that we send by email for them to sign.”

For all these, landowners are required to pay government only PhP50 as registration fee and PhP20 for documentary stamps for every parcel of land they register.

“Compare this with the usual lawyers’ fees and documentation at PhP1,000 to PhP2,000 per title, and having to go to the capital to follow-up ones’ papers, the expense could be great,” says PPIO Racho, who oversees the SATs that serve LAMP2’s 24 target municipalities.

Project funding has made all the difference. LAMP2 has not only hired and trained manpower, it provides vehicles for the SATs to use in reaching landowners. Every team has a quota of 3,600 applications. Carmencita Mar’s team has generated 4,200.

In Antequera, 18 kilometers from Tagbilaran City, 70 to 80 percent of the area is now titled. In Corella, the first municipality where LAMP2 was implemented, the coverage is 80 to 85 percent. In Maribohoc, which was not under project coverage, the mayor moved heaven and earth to be part of the project, setting up the municipality’s own LGU-led titling program, under the technical guidance and support of the PPIO.

Increased tax collections

Twenty-five percent of the real property tax collection goes to the LGU so local government income has increased. The value of land also increases once it is titled, raising tax levels. In 2008, Corella was number one in real property tax collection in Bohol, besting even the capital city of Tagbilaran. According to PENRO Canda, at a recent meeting of regional assessors, it was reported that Bohol by-passed Cebu in tax collection in 2010, thanks to LAMP2.

With the project ending on March 30, 2012, Carmencita Mar is anxious. “We want this mainstreamed. We must not go back to the old way where one person was in charge of a wide area. You need a team to get it done.”

The Systematic Adjudication Teams of Bohol’s PPIO have shown how much a good project and a motivated team can accomplish.

 
 

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