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Original registration of land


Dear PAO,

My name is Rowena, and I am presently residing abroad. I inherited a parcel of land more than a year ago in Batangas. However, I recently learned that the land remained unregistered. I want to know if I am legally allowed to apply for registration through my agent/representative in the Philippines or is it true that this is a case in which the application is only done in person? Finally, may I also know where is this filed? I am confused with the varying answers I am getting. Some say that it should be filed with the Municipal Trial Court, while others say that it should be filed with the Regional Trial Court.
Rowena

Dear Rowena,
The answer to your question is found in the provisions of Presidential Decree 1529, otherwise known as the “Property Registration Decree.” In relation to this, Sections 16 and 17 of the said law respectively provide, to wit:

“Section 16. Non-resident applicant. If the applicant is not a resident of the Philippines, he shall file with his application an instrument in due form appointing an agent or representative residing in the Philippines, giving his full name and postal address, and shall therein agree that the service of any legal process in the proceedings under or growing out of the application made upon his agent or representative shall be of the same legal effect as if made upon the applicant within the Philippines. If the agent or representative dies, or leaves the Philippines, the applicant shall forthwith make another appointment for the substitute, and, if he fails to do so the court may dismiss the application.

“Section 17. What and where to file. The application for land registration shall be filed with the Court of First Instance of the province or city where the land is situated. The applicant shall file together with the application all original muniments of titles or copies thereof and a survey plan of the land approved by the Bureau of Lands.

“The clerk of court shall not accept any application unless it is shown that the applicant has furnished the Director of Lands with a copy of the application and all annexes.”

A reading of the cited provisions dictates that a non-resident applicant like you may apply for registration through an authorized agent. This shows that an application for original land registration is not one of those legal applications which can only be done in person, provided that the authorized representative must be a resident of the Philippines.

Regarding your question relative to the place of application, as discussed above, the same is to be filed in the Regional Trial Court (previously referred to as the Court of First Instance) of the province or city where the land is situated. To obviate your confusion, it is noteworthy that in certain specified instances such as when the lot subject of original application is not subject to controversy or if contested, the value of the lot does not exceed P100,000; the law — specifically Batas Pambansa129,or what is commonly referred to as “The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980” — allows the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts to handle original registration cases, viz:

“Section 34. Delegated jurisdiction in cadastral and land registration cases. – Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts may be assigned by the Supreme Court to hear and determine cadastral or land registration cases covering lots where there is no controversy or opposition, or contested lots the where the value of which does not exceed One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00), such value to be ascertained by the affidavit of the claimant or by agreement of the respective claimants if there are more than one, or from the corresponding tax declaration of the real property. Their decisions in these cases shall be appealable in the same manner as decisions of the Regional Trial Courts (as amended by Republic Act 7691).”

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. This advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our narration of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

By: Chief Public Attorney Persida Acosta


Source: https://www.manilatimes.net/2020/11/04/legal-advice/dearpao/original-registration-of-land/791225/