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Ownership and Lease of Private Lands

Ownership of private lands in the Philippines is generally reserved for Filipino citizens and corporations which are 60% owned by Filipinos. By way of an exception, foreigners can own private lands in case of hereditary succession, where the foreigner, as a compulsory heir, inherits from a Filipino citizen.

Foreigners or foreign corporations, although prohibited from owning private lands as indicated above, can nevertheless hold private lands by way of lease for a period of up to fifty (50) years, renewable once for a period of twenty-five (25) years. However, a non-Filipino may acquire and own condominium units, provided that the total shareholdings of non-Filipinos in the Condominium Corporation (established to own the common areas and the land on which the condominium building stands) does not exceed 40%.

 

Purchase of Private Lands by Balikbayans

Any natural-born Filipino citizen who has lost his Philippine citizenship may be a transferee of a private land up to a maximum area of five thousand (5,000) square meters in the case of urban land, or three (3) hectares in the case of rural land, to be used by him for business or other purposes. In the case of married couples, one of them may avail of the said privilege.

Under the Dual Citizenship Act, natural-born Filipinos who lost their citizenship by naturalization as citizen of a foreign country before or after the enactment of said law would reacquire their Filipino citizenship upon taking an oath of allegiance to the Philippines.

 

Anti-Dummy Law

The Anti-Dummy Law prohibits foreign nationals (with the exception of technical personnel specifically authorized by the Secretary of Justice) from intervening in the management, operation, administration or control of persons, corporations, or associations reserved by nationalization laws to Filipino citizens or to corporations or associations at least a certain percentage of the capital of which should be owned by Filipino citizens.

 

Title to Property

The Philippines adopts the Torrens System of registration for real properties, which is patterned after the Massachusetts Land Registration Act of 1898. Subject only to direct attacks on the validity of its issuance, titles registered under the Torrens System are considered as absolute proof of ownership. “A certificate of title serves as evidence of an indefeasible and incontrovertible title to the property in favor of the person whose name appears therein.” [Endaya vs. Villaos, G.R. No. 202426, 27 January 2016]

In the absence of a title registered under the Torrens System, tax declarations may constitute proof of ownership. “Although tax declarations or realty tax payments of property are not conclusive evidence of ownership, nevertheless, they are good indicia of possession in the concept of owner for no one in his right mind would be paying taxes for a property that is not in his actual or at least constructive possession. They constitute at least proof that the holder has a claim of title over the property. The voluntary declaration of a piece of property for taxation purposes manifests not only one's sincere and honest desire to obtain title to the property and announces his adverse claim against the State and all other interested parties, but also the intention to contribute needed revenues to the Government. Such an act strengthens one's bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership.” [Heirs of Jose Estremadura vs. Extremadura, G.R. No. 211065 15 June 2016]

 

Notice of Lis Pendens

“The notice of lis pendens is an announcement to the whole world that a particular real property is in litigation. The inscription serves as a warning that one who acquires an interest over a litigated property does so at his own risk, or that he gambles on the result of the litigation over the said property.” [Col. Dela Merced vs. GSIS, G.R. No. 167140, 23 November 2011]

 

Adverse Claim

“The annotation of an adverse claim is a measure designed to protect the interest of a person over a part of real property, and serves as a notice and warning to third parties dealing with said property that someone is claiming an interest over it or has a better right than the registered owner thereof.” [Navotas Industrial Corporation vs. Cruz, 469 SCRA 530, 549 (2005)]

“The general rule is that a person dealing with registered land is not required to go behind the register to determine the condition of the property. However, such person is charged with notice of the burden on the property which is noted on the face of the register or certificate of title. A person who deals with registered land is bound by the liens and encumbrances including adverse claim annotated therein.” [Ibid. at p. 553-554]