Cotabato City

COA flags Cotabato over missing land titles

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COA flags Cotabato over missing land titles

LIGHT UP. The People's Palace, the seat of the Cotabato City government, lights up at night.

Rommel Rebollido/Rappler

Auditors note that the Cotabato City government bought the properties for P203 million, but the titles are nowhere to be found

MANILA, Philippines – State auditors called out the Cotabato City government over its failure to secure ownership titles over two properties it bought for more than P200 million several years ago.

Worse, government auditors discovered that a transfer certificate of title (TCT) was “borrowed” by the seller, who has allegedly been benefiting from the property’s use.

The Commission on Audit (COA), in a 2023 audit report released on March 22, noted that while the city government holds the absolute deeds of sale for the properties, the TCTs remained with Broce Development Corporation.

The two properties cost the Cotabato City government P203.67 million. One is a 10,000-square meter lot in Barangay Tamontaka Mother, which was bought for P4 million in 2012. The Tamontaka Mother property presently houses the Halal Slaughterhouse and Feedmill Warehouse. 

The other property, around 50 hectares, was bought by city hall for P199.67 million for an envisaged economic zone and various city infrastructure projects.

The COA, however, noted in the report that the TCT for the 50-hectare property was briefly in the city government’s possession until the document was “borrowed” by the previous owner on August 13, 2020.

State auditors said they were told by the Cotabato City General Services Office (CGSO) that the TCT has not been returned since it was purportedly “borrowed” about four years ago.

As a consequence, the CGSO has been unable to process the necessary documentation for the properties because of the absence of the TCTs, the COA stated in its report.

Auditors pointed out that the failure to transfer the titles has jeopardized the city government’s ownership rights, allowing the previous owner to continue benefiting from the properties.

Given the absence of the TCTs, the COA expressed doubts about the city government’s declared land value of P1.6 billion as of  2023.

The COA stated, “Absent the said document, the CGSO could not proceed with the processing of the Certificate Authorizing Registration at the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) and the TCT at the Register of Deeds.”

Responding to the COA findings, auditors said local officials committed to expediting the documentation and processing of TCTs for the acquired properties to safeguard its interests against potential legal challenges. –

1 comment

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  1. ET

    I appreciate COA’s effort in this finding. Will the Ombudsman conduct a related investigation to determine who is liable? Or will there be a “hocus pocus” so the liable officials will go scot-free? How about the said owner, no liability, too? Is a Political Dynasty involved here, too?

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