PHILIPPINE LAND REGISTRATION
LAND REGISTRATION IN THE PHILIPPINES
The Torrens Title has been defined under Philippine law as a certificate of ownership under the Torrens system. Such document is issued through the intervention of the Register of Deeds which names and declares the owner in fee simple of the real property described in such document. In doing so, it is thereby understood that such property is free from all liens and encumbrances except those that are expressly provided for or noted therein.
Under the Torrens title system, a title that has been registered cannot be defeated by mere prescription except however, if such is subject to the rights of a third party based on equity. As a basic principle, registration does not confer or vest title. It merely confirms any pre-existing title over the property. As such, a registrant who has been successful in registering his or her property under the system will only have the same rights that he or she possessed prior to the registration. The process of registration under the Torrens title system involves the intervention of the courts as such is in the nature of a judicial proceeding. Furthermore, the said proceeding is in the nature of an in rem proceeding as it is enforceable against anyone in the whole world.
The purpose of employing the Torrens title system is to provide certainty over ownership of lands. The system makes this possible by presuming certificates of title as imprescriptible, indefeasible and incontrovertible. By these, individuals who wish to deal with land are not required to look into the dorsal side of the document and instead, they may simply rely on the face of the certificate. Furthermore, certificates of title cannot be defeated by adverse, open and notorious possession or prescription. Neither may the legality of such certificate be attacked collaterally. These rules however do not apply in instances where circumstances exist that would tend to arouse suspicion on the part of the buyer making investigation of the title a necessity. Also, it has been previously held that a party’s alleged possession of a transfer certificate of title and actual possession of subject land, although strong proofs of ownership, are not necessarily conclusive where the assertion of the proprietary rights is founded on a dubious claim of ownership. In essence, all of these safeguards have been put into place in order to fulfill the system’s primary goal, that is, to quiet title to land by ending all controversies regarding its ownership.
There are three main principles that govern the Torrens title system on land registration.
- Mirror Principle which states that the certificate of title reflects accurately and completely the facts about a person’s title. In effect, if an owner sells his or her estate, the details found in the new title must correspond to those found in the old one except for the name of the new owner.
- Curtain Principle which states that the current certificate of title contains all the relevant information about the title. As a result, a historical search of previous titles is not required.
- Insurance Principle which provides for compensation to those who have been injured by errors made.