Commission on Audit

COA: Ports authority has no title for P73-B land, risking counterclaims

Lance Spencer Yu

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COA: Ports authority has no title for P73-B land, risking counterclaims

David Castuciano/Rappler

Because of the lack of titles, the Philippine Ports Authority is facing land disputes with the Government Service Insurance System and National Power Corporation

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) flagged the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) for not having titles for land assets worth more than P73 billion, warning that it could entangle the agency in ownership disputes.

During the 2022 audit, PPA was found to not have original or transfer certificate of titles (O/TCT) for landholdings valued at P73.548 billion. Without titles, COA warned that the ownership of the parcels of land, with a combined area of at least 3.925 million square meters, becomes “uncertain.”

Government agencies are required to secure a certificate of title or other evidence showing that the property purchased is titled to the government, as mentioned under Section 39 (2) of Presidential Decree No. 1446.

“The certificate of title is the best form of evidence of land ownership under the system of land registration,” COA said. “Absence of the O/TCT to prove ownership exposes the Land to counterclaim of ownership from third parties and renders the ownership of the Land uncertain.”

These counterclaims have already been happening. The port area in the reclaimed portion of the North Harbor in Manila Bay, valued in PPA’s books at P10.921 billion, is also being claimed by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). Aside from the land dispute issue, there is also the problem of overstating the assets of the government, since the GSIS also records the same property in its books at a value of P17.2 billion.

The state auditor has already issued a letter to the GSIS to derecognize the property from its books and for PPA to retain the property in its records.

PPA is also facing another land dispute – this time, with the National Power Corporation – over parcels of land in the South Harbor Expanded Port Zone worth P166.6 million. 

So far, only 40,547 square meters of land, valued at P258.345 million, are secured by a TCT, which is under the custody of the Treasury Department-Head Office. The rest have no titles.

The PPA said that it is working to resolve the land title issue, explaining that it “relies on the dispatch of the other concerned agencies.” The ports authority has taken an inventory of all its properties and also formed a special committee to monitor the status of titling, in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. – 

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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.