The Land Registration Authority of the Philippines
The Land Registration Authority (www.lra.gov.ph) is the agency mandated by Philippine laws with the task of preserving the integrity of the land registration process and protecting the sanctity of the Torrens Title. It is the central depository of all lands records and through its Registry of Deeds offices nationwide, that all records are kept of its instruments affecting registered and unregistered lands as well as chattel mortgages affecting movable properties.
“Title” is a generic word meaning proof, evidence or monument of ownership, such as Tax Declarations, Real Property Tax Receipts, Deeds of Sale, and the Torrens title. Title, contrary to popular understanding, is not directly synonymous with Torrens, which is considered as the best evidence of ownership because “it is binding and indefeasible to the whole world.”
The Torrens System originated when Sir Robert Torrens became a member of South Australia’s First Colonial Ministry, where he introduced in the parliament a bill providing for the adoption of his scheme of land registration. Torrens was inspired by the facility with which ships or undivided shares therein were negotiated and transferred in accordance with the Merchant Shipping Acts. Becoming a Register of Deeds, he devised a scheme of registration of title that improved the old system.
In the Philippines, the Philippine Commission enacted in November 6, 1902 the Act 496, otherwise known as the Land Registration Law. This Act created the Court of Land Registration (CLR), the offices of the Registers of Deeds, and of the institution in this country of the Torrens System of registration, whereby a real estate ownership may be judicially confirmed and recorded in the archives of the government. However, the system actually took effect on February 1, 1903.
Later, the Court of Land Registration, because of Act No. 2347, was given over o the Court of First Instance and a new office was established – the General Land Registration Office (GLRO).
On June 17, 1954, Republic Act No. 1151 abolished the GLRO and created the Land Registration Commission (LRC) wherein the Commissioner took over the powers and functions of the GLRO, directly working under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice, and was in direct control of the Registers of Deeds (RD’s) as well as the Clerks of Court of First Instance in land registration cases.
A Registry of Deeds was established in every city and every province and a branch registry was put up wherever else possible at that time. On February 9, 1981, then President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Executive Order No. 649, reorganizing the LRC into the National Land Titles and Deeds Registration Administration (NLTDRA). This was changed into the Land Registration Authority by virtue of a Presidential Memorandum Circular dated September 30, 1988 and in line with Executive Order No. 292 dated July 25, 1987, instituting the Administrative Code of 1987, which took effect in November 1989.
At present, the LRA is still and attached agency of the Department of Justice and is working hand in hand with the following public sector agencies:
1. Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) – collection of capital gains and other related taxes
2. Local Government Units (LGU’s) – collection of real property and transfer taxes
3. Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) – issuance of patents for land under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP)
4. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) CENRO, PENRO RED – issuance of patents (title to land) Regional Land Management Service (DENR-LMS) – examination and approval of survey plans
5. Regional Trial Courts (RTC) and Municipal Trial Courts (MTC) – determination of validity of ownership claims in applications for original registration, judicial reconstitution of titles, and amendments to certificates
6. Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) – identification and investigation of fraudulent titles
7. Philippine National Police (PNP) – apprehension and prosecution of persons or syndicates caught in possession of or transacting in fake or spurious certificates of land title
The Authority has grown through the years, now with a total of 2,500 employees nationwide. The Authority is more active than ever, willing and able to defend the integrity of the Torrens system in the Philippines for the benefit of the Filipino landowners.