When the Land Registration Authority (LRA) embarked into computerization through the Land Titling Computerization Project (LTCP), around 16.6 Million titles of the 159 registries nationwide were scanned and uploaded in the database. However, the scanned image in the system is not the title itself but is only the picture thereof. The title remains the paper title kept in the vault of the registry office.
The aforementioned scanning of title, including the encoding of the entries thereof, serves as a preparatory process before the upgrading of the title to Electronic Title, the nature of which would be discussed herein later.
When there is a transaction involving the title, be it sale, mortgage, or any transaction that requires annotation, pursuant to Sections 54 and 57 of PD 1529, the Office of the Register of Deeds through its Records Officer is required to find the title to ascertain that it still exists because when it cannot be found, the office has to recommend the filing in court of a petition for the reconstitution of the lost title before any transaction can be had thereon.
Such is without mentioning that the legal obligation of the Registrar or his deputy is not only to find the title, he must also read and interpret them, including the documents presented, in accordance with the Civil Laws, Rules of Court, and other pertinent laws, rules and regulations.
As already mentioned, the Office of the Register of Deeds has to find the paper title but there are more than 16 Million titles nationwide and the searching thereof may be undertaken in one or more registry offices, some of which keeps around 500 thousand titles or even more.
The fact that the paper title was previously scanned is not an assurance that it still exists as of the present date, for it may have been lost or destroyed while inside the vault after the scanning thereof. Such is the inherent limitation of a title in a form of paper and the scanning therefore only guarantees that it physically exists as of the date it was scanned and not afterwards.
If the paper title is to be compared to a person, whose name for example is Pedro Gomez, the fact that his picture was taken at a given date is not a guarantee that he is still alive a month or even a day after the picture was taken. One must personally see him to ascertain that he is still alive as of the present date.
When the title is already upgraded to Electronic Title, which is described as a title that is created electronically, the title is no longer the paper title but the one that is in the database.
As earlier discussed, when the title is still manual, the Office of the Register of Deeds has to find it in its vault. But when it is already an Electronic Title, the office has to retrieve it only in the database system, and once it is retrieved, the office is actually looking at the title itself.
The completion of the upgrading of all titles to Electronic Title is also one of the indicators of the World Bank in the determination of the Philippine’s ranking in Doing Business among 190 economies. The other indicators include getting credit, taxes, enforcing contracts, resolving insolvency, among others.
In the April 30, 2019 letter to the LRA, the Department of Trade and Industry reiterated that the upgrading of paper titles to Electronic Titles would specifically improve our ranking in Doing Business. Moreover, there are also growing number of banks and institutions* that submitted their respective letters of intent to upgrade their titles to Electronic Title.
However, as of the recent time, of the 16.6 Million titles nationwide, only 28.54% or 4.7 Million titles were upgraded to Electronic Title, leaving 71.46% or 11.9 Million titles in a paper title status.
The upgrading of all titles to Electronic Title is even more needed this recently because of the increase of transactions in the registries nationwide. For the year 2018 alone, there are a total of 2.7 Million transactions in the registries.
When the title is already upgraded to Electronic Title, considering that it is easier to retrieve, it becomes a “transaction ready” title, aside from the fact that it may no longer be lost or destroyed. It is therefore of prudence on the part of the registered owner to upgrade his title to Electronic Title even before the advent of any transaction thereon.
The final step for such upgrading is his surrender of old owner’s duplicate title to the Register of Deeds, for the latter to approve it and to replace it with the owner’s duplicate title of the Electronic Title.
While the transacting public may have viewed the LRA as fully computerized in terms of processing of its transactions, it is not true however in so far as the 71.46% or 11.9 Million of its titles in the registries nationwide. We appeal therefore to the transacting public and the registered owners to assist us in the computerization of the registries by surrending their old manual titles for upgrading to Electronic Title.
*Manila Water Company, Inc., PNB Savings Bank, East West Rural Bank, Inc., Philippines Resources Savings Bank Corporation, Sterling Bank of Asia, Philippine Veterans Bank, RCBC Savings Bank, UPCB, DA-Bureau of Soils and Water Management, BH Bank, Rural Bank of Alicia (Isabela), Inc., Cooperative Bank of Zambales, City Land Development Corporation, Rural Bank of Malolos, Inc., Rural Bank of Pilar (Bataan), Inc., Rural Bank of La Paz, Inc., the Country Bank, Gatebank, Lipa Bank, Rural Bank of Maria Aurora, Inc., Pangasinan, Bank, Inc., New Rural Bank of San Leonardo (NE), Inc., Rural Bank of Sta. Rosa de Lima, Inc., Rural Bank of Aritao, Inc., Rural Bank of Bambang (N.V.), Inc., Balanga Rural Bank, Inc., Cooperative Bank of La Union, Wealthbank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, Maynilad Water Services, Inc., Ayala Land, Inc, Cebu Holdings, Inc., San Miguel Corporation, Rural Bank of Baco (Or. Mindoro), Inc., Rural Bank of Paracle (Camarines Norte), Inc., Social Security System, National Housing Authority.