11,000 MISSING LAND TITLES IN ALBAY REGISTRY OF DEEDS
Legazpi, Albay, July 11, 2003 By Celso Amo (Star) Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara ordered a thorough audit of the registry of deeds here after 11,000 land titles were found missing at the ground floor of the provincial capitol the other day.
Bichara expressed alarm over the loss and disclosed that aside from the 11,000 missing land titles, another 74,029 out of the 178,000 land titles at the registry of deeds were cancelled.
"This will give the wrong impression to prospective investors and could erode the confidence of businessmen here," he said.
"Missing thousands of land titles is not a joke. This could encourage investors to look for other places where the economic climate is stable," he added.
Bichara asked the Land Registration Authority (LRA) to look into the matter, and the registry of deeds to computerize its filing system.
Winefreda Villareal, acting registrar of deeds, said they discovered that 11,000 land titles were missing following an audit ordered by lawyer Gil Lorayes, former provincial registrar of deeds who was appointed city fiscal last June 30.
"Actually, there had been no yearly audit of the land titles at the registry of deeds for the past 20 years," Villareal said.
With the present audit, she said they could update their records and thus provide better service to the public.
Insiders said the missing original land titles can be reconstituted but landowners have to shell out P30,000 to P50,000. The process could take years to complete, they added.
Villareal said the missing land titles could have been taken home by some personnel of the registry of deeds or lost in 1987 at the height of typhoon "Sisang," which destroyed a lot of records at the old, dilapidated provincial capitol.
"There was also no clear system in keeping the records safe," Villareal admitted, adding they cannot determine whether the missing titles were commercial, residential or agricultural.
She said they are at present carrying out "corrective measures" like periodic inventory and the recovery of the missing land titles.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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