DOJ told to dismantle land titling ‘syndicate’ at LRA

DOJ told to dismantle land titling ‘syndicate’ at LRA

05:05 AM October 10, 2023

DOJ told to dismantle land titling ‘syndicate’ at LRA

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva (Joseph B. Vidal/Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines — Senators have called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to dismantle the syndicate, believed to be composed of insiders in the Land Registration Authority (LRA), who are behind the issuance of fake land titles across the country.

At the Senate budget briefing of the DOJ on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva recalled how he and some friends personally saw how a “mafia” within the LRA worked for the issuance of counterfeit land titles, which took legitimate owners decades to reverse.


“We are hoping and praying that [the LRA is] doing something about this by putting in place mechanisms to counteract these practices,” he said.


Villanueva questioned why the LRA had not come out with its own findings of the investigation of the arrest of seven persons in Pangasinan province in September for the supposed sale of fake land titles.

“There have been lots of complaints about the rampant sale of fake titles in Central Luzon. So what is the LRA doing to strengthen its anticounterfeiting mechanisms so that land titles will not be faked?” he said.

Citing his personal experience, Villanueva said that he had seen how legitimate owners were ejected from their lands with the claimant showing a fake title as proof.

“It was really disappointing because I saw how [the syndicate] worked on the issuance of a new title, but which was reversed by the courts in Cabanatuan City and LRA personnel are now facing [criminal and administrative] charges,” he said.

“It took the family a decade to figure it out, with my intervention through [Agrarian Reform] Secretary [Conrado] Estrella III, we saw that indeed, it was the handiwork of a syndicate,” Villanueva added.

READ: Big-time fakers of land titles face suit


READ: Land title scam in GenSan much bigger – Pimentel

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III urged the LRA to come up with a mechanism that will allow the public to verify with ease the authenticity of a land title.

“Such mechanism will minimize fraud or estafa cases if the public can make a quick check on the authenticity of the title by looking up the number, then counterchecking its existence in the [LRA] database,” he said.

Such a service allowing the public to check the authenticity of land titles will also prevent the clogging of court cases, which often involve land disputes, Pimentel said.

Lawyer Gerardo Sirios, LRA administrator, said the agency had been enhancing the security features of land titles with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, its supplier of paper material used for land titles.

“We are continually improving our judicial forms by adding [security] features as we are aware that these counterfeiters are always a step ahead,” he said.

He said that the LRA is open to receiving requests for verification of the authenticity of land titles, but admitted that the response cannot be immediate, as they are limited by lack of personnel.

He said he would seek the help of the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate the existence of an alleged syndicate of fake land titles operating inside the LRA.

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“We would just need some assistance [from the NBI] as we have limited capability on the investigation of this syndicates,” he said.

TAGS: Aquilino Pimentel III, Department of Justice, fake land titles, Joel Villanueva, Land Registration Authority, land titling syndicate

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