One of the basic requirements for the registration, or issuance of new certificate of title, after voluntary dealings i.e., conveyance, mortgage, lease, charge, and the like, with registered lands, is the presentation of the Owner’s Duplicate Certificate of Title (Original Certificate of Title, Transfer Certificate of Title or Condominium Certificate of Title), which is conclusive authority from the registered owner to the Register of Deeds (“ROD”) to enter a new certificate of title or to make a memorandum of registration in accordance with the instrument embodying the voluntary dealing. Generally, no voluntary dealing shall be registered by the ROD unless the Owner’s Duplicate Certificate of Title is presented. Prudence thus dictates that land/real property owners safekeep their Owner’s Duplicate Certificate of Title to ensure that any form of conveyance may be undertaken with relative ease.
What if the Owner’s Duplicate Certificate of Title is lost i.e., through fire, flood, theft, among others? The remedy is to petition the court for its replacement.
Replacement of Lost Owner’s Duplicate Certificate of Title
Jurisprudence holds that Section 109 of Presidential Decree No. (PD) 1529 “is the law applicable in petitions for issuance of new Owner’s Duplicate Certificates of Title which are lost or stolen or destroyed.” (Heirs of Spouses Ramirez v. Abon, G.R. No. 222916, 24 July 2019, 910 SCRA 216). The requirements and process for the replacement of lost Owner’s Duplicate Certificate of Title may be summarized, thus:
- the registered owner or other person in interest shall send notice of the loss or destruction of the owner’s duplicate certificate of title to the Register of Deeds of the province or city where the land lies as soon as the loss or destruction is discovered;
- the corresponding petition for the replacement of the lost or destroyed owner’s duplicate certificate shall then be filed in court and entitled in the original case in which the decree of registration was entered;
- the petition shall state under oath the facts and circumstances surrounding such loss or destruction;
- the court may set the petition for hearing after due notice to the Register of Deeds and all other interested parties as shown in the memorandum of encumbrances noted in the original or transfer certificate of title on file in the office of the Register of Deeds; and
- after due notice and hearing, the court may direct the issuance of a new duplicate certificate which shall contain a memorandum of the fact that it is issued in place of the lost or destroyed certificate and shall in all respects be entitled to the same faith and credit as the original duplicate.
Land/real property owners should be mindful that Court cases take time, more so in this time of the COVID-19 Pandemic; it is expected to take longer than usual. The LRA is however exploring a proposal to allow administrative replacement of lost Owner’s Duplicate Certificates of Title with proper safeguards; this however requires legislation. When enacted this shall streamline the process of replacement and ease the burden of still going to court. As mentioned however, proper safekeeping of an Owner’s Duplicate Certificate of Title, is key. As they say, prevention is better than cure.
In the meantime, the LRA has commenced implementation of a Voluntary Title Standardization Program. It provides land/real property owners with manual certificates of title the option to upgrade their titles to “e-Titles” (digitized form of a certificate of title), which are issued by LRA’s new Computerized System as part of the agency’s Land Titling Computerization Project. Such computerized system, among others, aims to “maintain the security and integrity of records by safeguarding” the titles from xxx destruction, and e-Titles are immune from the dangers manual titles are exposed to i.e., tampering, vulnerability to natural disasters, faking.
Correspondingly, land/real property owners with manual certificates of title may choose to avail of this upgrade to e-Title and prevent the possibility of loss, and therefore avoid the inconvenience of the process of replacement of Owner’s Duplicate Certificate of Title, altogether. The process to obtain an e-Title is summarized thus:
- Bring your Owner’s Duplicate Certificate of Title, and other required documents i.e., verified petition by the registered owner, tax clearance, certified copy of tax declaration, and valid identification, to the nearest satellite office of the LRA;
- The LRA shall match the duplicate copy to the original to validate authenticity;
- Once validated, the conversion process of your manual title to e-Title shall commence after payment of minimal fees;
- After a couple of days your Owner’s Duplicate e-Title shall be ready for pick up.
An e-Title bears the marks of authenticity of an original manual title; it contains a barcode and watermarks as security features thereof. When the manual title is upgraded to a title created electronically, such e-Title is no longer a paper title but the one that is in the database of the LRA. The e-Title shall be more accessible as the process of retrieving information shall take a few minutes, as compared to the period for manual titles which take days. Further, with an e-Title, land/real property owners now have a faster and easier way to retrieve or rebuild lost information pertaining their certificate of titles.
The process of upgrading from manual title to an e-title is relatively easy and affordable, thus land/real property owners should consider undertaking this option as soon as possible. With an e-title voluntary dealings on your property would be more convenient.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. This article is for general informational and educational purposes only and not offered as and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion.
John Frederick E. Derije is a Senior Associate of the Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALAW), Davao Branch. ACCRALAW’s Head Office is located at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines.