My father died last month. I am presently collating the documents pertaining to the properties he left, so I can process the transfer of the titles. I have already secured the documents I need, except for one title that covers his property in the province. Despite diligent search, I cannot find the original title. May I know what I should do? How can I solve my problem?
There is a legal remedy available in case of loss of the owner’s duplicate certificate of title intended to secure a new certificate of title in lieu of the one that was lost. Section 109 of Presidential Decree (PD) 1529 known as the Property Registration Code states:
“Section 109. Notice and replacement of lost duplicate certificate. In case of loss or theft of an owner’s duplicate certificate of title, due notice under oath shall be sent by the owner or by someone in his behalf to the Register of Deeds of the province or city where the land lies as soon as the loss or theft is discovered. If a duplicate certificate is lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced by a person applying for the entry of a new certificate to him or for the registration of any instrument, a sworn statement of the fact of such loss or destruction may be filed by the registered owner or other person in interest and registered.
Upon the petition of the registered owner or other person in interest, the court may, after notice and due hearing, direct the issuance of a new duplicate certificate, which shall contain a memorandum of the fact that it is issued in place of the lost duplicate certificate, but shall in all respects be entitled to like faith and credit as the original duplicate, and shall thereafter be regarded as such for all purposes of this decree.”
Based on the above quoted provision of law, the procedure for securing a new certificate of title is initiated by first notifying the concerned register of deeds of the loss or theft of the owner’s duplicate certificate of title. This is done by filing an affidavit of loss with the concerned register of deeds detailing the circumstances surrounding the loss or theft of the title. This is followed by filing a petition with the court, particularly the regional trial court of the place where the land is located, which is vested with exclusive jurisdiction over all applications for original registration of title and over all petitions filed after original registration of title (Section 2, PD 1529).
Thereafter, the matter will be heard by the court and the petitioner must establish the fact of loss or theft of the owner’s duplicate certificate of title. Otherwise, the petition may be dismissed. Commenting on the interpretation of the term “lost” as used in the law, the Supreme Court held in the case of Alcaraz vs Arante (GR No. 177042, 10 December 2012, Ponente: Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta), that “in construing words and phrases used in a statute, the general rule is that, in the absence of legislative intent to the contrary, they should be given their plain, ordinary and common usage meaning.” Thus, it must be proven that the title is actually lost and not merely in the possession of a third person. (Ibid.)
Should the court grant the petition, it shall order the issuance of a new title which will contain a memorandum of the fact that it is issued in place of the lost duplicate certificate. The new title will then be entitled to like faith and credit as the original duplicate in all respects. (Section 109, PD 1529).
All told, you may avail of the remedy provided under Section 109 of the Property Registration Decree in order to resolve your present predicament. Make sure, however, that you follow the prescribed procedure and prove the actual loss of your late father’s duplicate certificate of title to persuade the judge to rule in your favor.
We hope we were able to sufficiently address your concern. Please bear in mind that this opinion is based on the facts you narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary if facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org