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De Castro warns vs land title scams


By Jose Rodel Clapano Updated April 24, 2009 12:00 AM [ philstar.com ]

MANILA, Philippines - Vice President Noli de Castro warned the public yesterday to beware of syndicates selling vast tracts of land in Metro Manila and nearby provinces using fake land titles.

De Castro, chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) said some squatting syndicates are using fake titles such as “Titulo de Proprieda (4136) and Original Certificate of Title (OCT) 01-4 when selling large tracts of lands. These titles are no longer used in any land registration proceeding under the Torrens system, he said.

“The public should practice prudence when it comes to investing their hard-earned money in properties to avoid falling prey to squatting syndicates,” he said.

De Castro said part of the modus operandi of squatting syndicates is requiring would-be buyers to become members of an association before they can purchase property and the offered price is generally too low compared to the current fair market value.

He said that last month, the HUDCC’s anti-squatting group filed charges against professional squatters and squatting syndicates for estafa and falsification of public documents.

“These syndicates claimed ownership of a property in Maligaya Park Subdivision, Camarin, Caloocan City and San Luis, Antipolo City by using Transfer Certificate of Title No. 408, which has been declared spurious by the Land Registration Authority-Task Force Titulong Malinis No. 99-0151. The syndicates have allegedly collected more than P1 million from the complainants,” De Castro said.

He said some of the cases involve Benjie Rabaya vs. Nelson Junggay and Marichu Inabe; Imelda Micmic vs. Beatriz Cantos et al; Samuel Mayor vs. Edcel and Eric Magallano; David Tolentino vs. Wilfreda and Roel Tayum; Oropel del Prado vs. Erlinda Mirasol et al; Cecilia Bandril et al vs. Salvacion Santos et al.

De Castro said earlier this month, 11 suspected squatting syndicate members were arrested at the National Government Center Housing Project West MRB compound in Quezon City for posing as military reservists. He said the suspects allegedly entered and occupied a vacant lot in the area using a Certificate of Land Occupancy issued by a certain Allan Bustilo, alleged attorney-in-fact of “Doña Lourdes Rodriguez Yaneza,” the name by which a squatting syndicate tries to stake claims on various properties.

“This should serve as a warning to other squatting syndicates and professional squatters. The government will stop at no one to arrest and prosecute these unscrupulous individuals who victimize and harass the innocent as well as the legitimate property owners,” De Castro said.

He said that 22 cases have been filed since 2004 against professional squatters and squatting syndicates, including known syndicate leaders Wilfredo Torres and spouses Bernardo and Rachel Mabaggu, who have been arrested.

He said aside from installing warning billboards in areas where squatting syndicates are known to operate, the HUDCC also launched a series of trainings and seminars for developer’s groups and local government units to educate them on the modus operandi of the professional squatters and squatting syndicates and how to detect fake land titles.

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