Registering land in the country has proven to be a headache, and this inept system is turning off investors, one expert has said.
Ian Lloyd, senior land administration and management specialist at Land Governance Innovations, said only Indonesia and Cambodia are worse than the Philippines "in terms of land registration processing time and efficiency."
"This is important because it’s a very competitive environment in Southeast Asia economically, so it’s an indicator that the Philippines is not doing well," Lloyd said.
He said the Philippines was once "a leader" in land registration at the turn of the century, with its "well-developed land registration system," but it was not able to keep up with the "demands of the abundant society."
He added that, although the move to computerize registration was "laudable," it was not implemented in the whole system.
"It was done in the land registration part, distinct from the DENR’s (the environment department) land-surveying part, and distinct again from the ancestral records. You really have a split system in terms of land administration," Lloyd said.
Because of this, duplication occurs frequently and "incomparable records" are prevalent, which is problematic because "developers’ plans need to have consistent records."
"It’s important in land registration that one parcel, one title. The Philippines is well-known for having multiple titles for one parcel, having spurious titles as well," Lloyd said.
Land systems are "very complex," he added, and would not work with a short-term view. He urges the government to adopt a program that is at least 10 years, if not 15 or 20, in terms of the outline, with detailed 5-year plans.
Starting Wednesday, land administration stakeholders will convene for the two-day Conference on Sustainable Land Governance at Diamond Hotel in Manila.
Sergio Andal Jr., cities oversight director of the USAID's Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) Project, said the conference is an opportunity to share ideas and experiences.
They are also hoping to come up with a "list of things that should be done to improve land governance" and a call to action addressed to different government institutions.
"The call to action is actually a first step. We are hoping to bring together the key stakeholders and we will create some sort of a coalition for land tenure," Andal said.
"Hopefully in the future, the coalition can continue working with government and push the agenda that will come out of the conference."
Andal said he expects the event to be well-attended, adding that the outcomes discussed in the conference will be posted online and made available to the public.