Tuesday, September 3, 2013

LRA downplays WB standard on release of land titles

The Land Registration Authority (LRA) downplayed the World Bank standard which cited three weeks as the ideal period of time for the release of land title registrations and said it is only realistic in countries that do not follow the Torrens System

“The World Bank study on the ease of doing business citing 3 weeks as the maximum period for release of land titles is based on the processes followed by countries without the legal torrens systems,” LRA Deputy Administrator for Operations Atty. Robert Nomar V. Leyretana said last Thursday.

Leyretana had a one-on-one discussion with Land Management Bureau (LMB) officer-in-charge Engr. Ralph C. Pablo and the officials of the Organization of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines (OSHDP) in the city to thresh out the organization’s concern on the delay in the release of land title registrations all over the country as a result of LRA’s computerization program.

OSHDP President Atty. Ryan T. Tan said the developers are pushing for the harmonization of the systems used by the LRA and the LMB to make the system of land administration, property registration and transferrability of titles more efficient.

“Globally the standard for processing of our subdivision of titles is three weeks maximum but in the Philippines you are lucky if you get your titles in three months (because of the conflict between the two agencies),” he said.

LRA started bidding its computerization program in 2000 under the Build-Own-Operate Scheme but the implementation started only in 2008. The computerization program aims to make LRA’s operations more efficient and prevent the issuance of dubious land titles. However, developers claim it is only in this country where computerization has resulted to delays in transactions specifically in the release of land titles.
“The three-week standard is easy in Australia because they do not have land titles—they just have the transfer of their properties listed and that’s it,” Mr. Leyretana said. In the Philippines, he said, the torrent system has been followed since 1903 and this legal framework has resulted to a slower process.

This is the reason why the LRA thought of computerizing their system, to respond to this particular problem, he said.  But while they have computerized the system, he added, LRA cannot do away with the legal framework.

LRA has scanned 22.28 million of 24 million certificates of title and has encoded 21.37 million of such titles as of August 08, 2013. Up to 136 of the 167 Register of Deeds nationwide are already fully computerized and live. Aside from the usual technical glitches, he said, the agency is also faced with the problem of antiquated personnel most of whom are 55 years old and above who are not computer-savvy.

“Only 6-7% of the Registry of Deeds have not been computerized but these are smaller ones located in Batanes, Bongao, Tawi-Tawi and Catanduanes,” Mr. Leyretana said.

But the computerization process did not reinvent the wheel of the whole land title registration program based on PD 1529, he said. PD 1529 is the law amending and codifying the Laws relative to registration of property.

A case in point, he said, is the process of getting a certificate of copy of a lost land title. Many people think we can just print the copy since we are computerized, he added, but they still have to go to court and file a petition to get an order directing the Register of Deeds to issue a copy.

Leyretana was however quick to point out the benefits of the computerization program saying lot owners can now go to the LRA and get a print out of the land configuration in order to determine the right measurement of their lots. It has also started to offer geo-spatial query service to several government agencies to identify the right of way and titled property falling within danger zones.

“We have been pushing for the LARA Law (Land Administration and Reform Act) in order to harmonize our policies,” Pablo said. He said they were asked to submit the latest version of this bill in order to harmonize the different government processes. The LARA Bill seeks to combine several offices with land distribution functions into one.

However, Leyretana said they have been vigilant in opposing the passage of this bill. “We want a reconfiguration not a merging of all agencies with land distribution functions,” he added. LRA should not be lumped among these agencies, he said, because it is only mandated to register titles and not to dispose or distribute.

In the meantime, the developers and homeowners will have to wait for these agencies to resolve their problems. “Naiipit ang pera natin habang nag-aaway ang DENR (LMB),” Tan said.

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