Baguio court declares Irisan land titles void

BAGUIO CITY (Sept. 22) — A Regional Trial Court (RTC) declared two original certificate of titles in Barangay Irisan here as null and void as the lands were acquired fraudulently. As a result of the fraudulent acquisition of the subject lands, the RTC ordered the local Registry of Deeds to cancel the titles issued that originated from the two OCTs as the subject lands are classified as forest lands.

The 21-page decision arises from the petition of the actual occupants decided by Judge Fernando Vil Pamintuan of the RTC Branch 3 on September 5, 2006.

Ordered by Judge Pamintuan for cancellation are OCT numbers 0-47 and 0-108 which gave birth to 94 Transfer of Certificates of Title (TCT), which were also declared void as their mother titles were void.

The titles cover Puroks 22, 23,24,25,26 and 27 of San Carlos Heights, Irisan.

Meanwhile, the affected residents, organized under LOBINDER, consider the latest court decision as a victory which temporarily relieved them of threats of losing their homes, and hopefully from demolition by the city government.

LOBINDER officials said the decision is a step forward for affected residents in their efforts to own the land they now occupying, with some tracing their occupancy for more than thirty years.

However, the officials added that there is still so much to do, saying that the claimants could still appeal the decision to higher courts. But for the meantime the claimants could not assert land ownership because the TCT’s they are holding are now null and void.

In his decision, Pamintuan ordered the defendants to surrender their owner’s duplicate copy of the TCT’s to the Registry of Deeds within three days upon receipt of the court decision.

The defendants include spouses Jaime and Erlinda Villanueva, Realty Development Corporation, Corazon Castro, Ricardo Enriquez, spouses Aurello and Teresita Galacgac, Nicolas Zarate, Remedios Zarate Carolino, Luzviminda Anuran, Conrado Nano, Evelyn Sapuay and the Registry of Deeds of Baguio City.

In the court documents, the defendants argued that they were “innocent purchasers” and protected by the Torrens system.

“The defense of being an innocent purchaser for value of the defendants can not be sustained by the Court for the simple reason that their original root title was already defective,” Pamintuan said. He added that the Torrens title could not be used as a shield for fraud.

The National Mapping Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) records showed that OCT 0-47 and 0-108 both fall within the public forest of Baguio City based on May No. LC-1024 certified in 1933.

The decision reveals that Anastacia Binay-an, Milagros Pinasig and Basilio Madiaco, et. al. filed an earlier petition at the Land Management Bureau (LMB) in 1992 seeking the cancellation of the said two OCTs. After conducting marathon hearings LMB forwarded the records of the case to the legal division of DENR-Cordillera.

In 1999, the DENR-Cordillera recommended to the Office of the Solicitor General to initiate a reversion proceeding for the cancellation of the said OCTs.

Solicitor General Justice Ricardo Galvez filed the case under the initiative of the DENR in 2000. # Kimberlie Ngabit Quitasol for NORDIS

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