Latest Stories

SC orders grafts raps vs 2 over twice-titled condos


MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court has ordered the Ombudsman to file graft charges against the former Pasig City register of deeds and a lawyer over the alteration of condominium certificates of title (CCTs) for a building whose ownership is being disputed by a realty firm and an insurance company.

In a 33-page decision written by Justice Jose Perez and issued on July 31, the high court’s Second Division said there was probable cause to charge former registrar Policarpio Espensin and lawyer Francis Serrano with violation of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The court also said Espensin was liable administratively for grave misconduct and should have been dismissed from the government service for violating the rules of title registration and merely relying on Serrano’s word that the CCTs should have been altered.

Division chair Justice Antonio Carpio and members Arturo Brion, Mariano del Castillo and Estela Perlas-Bernabe concurred in the ruling.

The case stemmed from a complaint by businessman Oscar Ampil, an unsecured creditor of an ASB Realty Corp. sister company which in 1995 entered into a joint development project with Malayan Insurance Co. (Mico) for the construction of a condominium, the Malayan Tower, at Ortigas Center.

Under their agreement, Mico was to contribute the land on which the building was to be put up and ASB would acquire ownership after paying P640 million.

In 2000, however, ASB was unable to fulfill its obligations to Mico after its sister company filed for rehabilitation in the Securities and Exchange Commission. Two years later, ASB and Mico again entered into another agreement whereby Mico was to assume the entire responsibility for the completion of the tower.

At the time, ASB had paid Mico around P427 million of the P640 million price of the land.

On March 11, 2005, Espensin issued 38 CCTs for 38 units and allotted parking spaces in the name of ASB. Later that day, however, he issued another set of CCTs covering the same units, this time in the name of Mico.

Espensin explained that Serrano, saying that he represented both Mico and ASB, had requested that the changes be made in the titles due to a simple error. The registrar said he consented as the titles had not yet been issued.

To protect his interest as a creditor, Ambil sued Espensin, Serrano and top Mico officials Yvonne Yuchengco and Gema Cheng before the Ombudsman for falsification of public documents and graft. Ambil said the 38 units were reserved for ASB under its agreement with Mico.

The Ombudsman, however, dismissed the criminal case of falsification due to lack of probable cause.

Ambil also filed an administrative case against Espensin but the Ombudsman only found the registrar guilty of simple misconduct and suspended him for one month.

Espensin went to the Court of Appeals which acquitted him of the charge in July 2009.

Ambil elevated both cases to the Supreme Court.

In its ruling, the high tribunal agreed with the dismissal of the falsification case but faulted the Ombudsman’s ruling for being silent on the graft aspect, adding that it had been ultimately established that Espensin, at Serrano’s urging, had altered the CCTs.

As registrar, the court said, Espensin was tasked to review deeds and other documents for conformance with the legal requirements of registration. The justices said that when the issuance of the first set of CCTs was recorded in the registry, the law states that these may not be changed without a court order.

“Espensin relied on Serrano’s word alone that a supposed error was committed. The ownership of the units remains in dispute and, by necessary inference, does not lie as well in Mico. By his baseless reliance on Serrano’s word and representation, Espensin allowed Mico to gain an unwarranted advantage and benefit in the titling of the 38 units in Malayan Tower.”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: condominium certificates of title , graft charges , Supreme Court , Talisay

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  2. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  3. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  4. Sandigan junks Marcos family claim to Paoay property
  5. Delfin Lee: Blame Pag-Ibig, not me
  6. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  7. San Juan cops fail to arrest Cedric Lee
  8. Maid confesses in killing of 2 and stabbing of employer in Laguna
  9. More ‘Yolanda’ bodies found
  10. Vitangcol to sue Czech envoy
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima


  • Ex-church leader nabbed for selling drugs
  • Camilla’s brother dies in US after head injury
  • Luisita farmers storm DAR compound
  • Trillanes, Ejercito confident they are not in Napoles’ list
  • Easterlies to prevail in Luzon, Visayas
  • Sports

  • Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97
  • Ronaldo shakes off injury fears to play Bayern
  • Mavs roll past Spurs 113-92, even series at 1-1
  • Phelps having fun in his return to swimming
  • Murray breaks down in tears at Scottish ceremony
  • Lifestyle

  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  • Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  • Entertainment

  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • Business

  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Cost-recovery provisions for affected gencos urged
  • This time, BIR goes after florists
  • Technology

  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Filipinos in Middle East urged to get clearance before returning
  • PH seeks ‘clearer assurance’ from US
  • China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  • What Went Before: Manila bus hostage crisis
  • Obama arrives in Tokyo, first stop of 4-nation tour
  • Marketplace