News Feature: Ilocos Norte carries load of property registration for land claimants

LAOAG CITY, Jan. 23 (PIA) — For decades, land disputes between claimants over choice locations in Ilocos Norte were a commonplace.

The disputes are more pronounced in the province’s coveted zones principally the beach properties in Pagudpud – the Ilocanos’ original poster image for tourism.

The situation was not lost in Governor Imee Marcos who, in 2011, embarked on an inventory of conflicting claims and untitled lots within the province with the intention of conferring ownership to rightful owners.

Based on the records of the Provincial Assessor’s Office, more than 300,000 parcels of lands in Ilocos Norte are without titles.

To her dismay, Marcos found that even properties that belong to the provincial government were untitled. The properties include the land where the Capitol sits and those occupied by public offices namely the Marcos Hall of Justice where courtrooms are housed, the Ilocano Hero’s Hall where most national agencies were holding office until it was turned to a supermart of a mall chain and a commercial land occupied by homegrown food stalls, the Dap-Ayan Center.

Marcos agrees that untitled properties pose a serious deterrent to growth let alone the unconscionable zonal values of lands in some town centers that include Laoag.

“Without infallible title, our beachfronts and scenic zones will remain idle and vulnerable to those who arrogate property for themselves flagrantly against the law,” the governor said in her 2011 State of the Province Address.

As a precursor to the comprehensive land titling process, Marcos created a law that would serve as a basis for the registration of lands in the province. She issued Executive Order 50-11 creating the task force “Titulo a Natalged, (secure land title)” which took effect on August 2, 2011. The law was immediately implemented in Pagudpud where land disputes abound.

Through the Assessors Office, the task force then plowed through untitled lands across the province, conducted surveys and took over the processing of land parcels claimed by residents until the coveted original certificates of title were handed to rightful owners.

To top it all, the provincial government processed the documents free of charge.

The provincial government partnered with the Land Registration Authority, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Agrarian Reform, the Geodetic Engineers Association and Private Realtors Association of Ilocos Norte in implementing the program.

To date, the task force has already processed 3,922 land titles. The province began distributing the certificates in 2011. (ANL/CCA-PIA 1 Ilocos Norte)

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