December 7, 2023

The Benguet Register of Deeds is waiting for the resolution from the city council of Baguio City authorizing Mayor Benjamin Magalong to sign the deed of sale of the property in Tuba, Benguet which was recently acquired for landbanking purposes.Acting Register of Deeds of Benguet Marcelli Merino said the resolution is part of the requirement in the city government’s application for the transfer of titles from the private owners to the local government unit.Section 444 of the Local Government Code states the local chief executive is required to secure the prior authorization of the municipal or city council before entering into a contract on behalf of the LGU.Pending the city council resolution, the city government has fulfilled other requirements for the processing of the transfer of titles including owners duplicate copy of the title, tax delinquency of the two titles involved, tax declaration of the titles and the transfer tax, among others. The city government bought the property at Sitio Topinao, Poblacion last year from lot owners spouses William and Hazel Dominique Tan. The city paid the owners P94 million in January 2023. However, in May, the city council brought up the legal issues regarding the lot where certain claimants are contesting the ownership of some parts of the property.Early this year, a petition for the quieting of title and reconveyance of real property was filed before the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Tuba-Sablan. The heirs of Florendo Lamsie, the heirs of Elly Willy, Jerry Fernandez, and Silverio Bustarde said a portion of the property sold by the Tans to the city government has encroached on their properties.Merino said their office did not find any existing cases annotated in the two titles presented by the city government. “There are no cases annotated on the titles, if there were maybe it is in the previous (titles). Here in the existing title, which is the subject for sale now, the encumbrances were cancelled before. There appear no encumbrances as of now and both the co-owners William Tan and Hazel Dominique Tan signed the notarized document,” she said.She said since it is a notarized document, the office trusts that the document is duly executed. “It is our ministerial duty to accept the documents that they have presented. Since it is complete and the titles and documents presented are authentic the way it appears to us, we were able to proceed and it passed through our examiner,” she said.Merino said in case of lawsuits filed in court against the properties about to be transferred to the city, any person can come to their office and have the case annotated through a notice of lis pendens. The latter means that the property is subjected to a lawsuit.  The city government is given 20 working days from Sept. 26 to submit a city council resolution authorizing registration of the property. She said if the city is not able to complete the requirements for the transfer of property, their office would have to deny its application.The city government’s property in Tuba is eyed to be a housing project for qualified Baguio residents as its primary beneficiaries.  The housing project, which had its groundbreaking early this year, is expected to produce a permaculture community with around 6,400 housing units as part of the present administration’s 4PH program, which aims to provide 6.5 million housing units in the country. – Ofelia C. Empian