Preservation and Protection of Land Control Points and Parcel Maps for the City of Olongapo

Building a Digital Land Registry System for the City of Olongapo

Zambales Province, Philippines
Image Unavailable
Lungsod ng Olongapo

The City of Olongapo is a highly urbanized city located in the province of Zambales, Philippines. According to the latest census, it has a population of 227,270 people in 43,107 households. Unlike the rest of the Philippines which gained independence from the United States after World War II in 1946, Olongapo was governed as a part of the United States naval reservation. After lobbying efforts of James Leonard T. Gordon, the area was relinquished to the Philippine government and converted into a municipality on December 7, 1959. Six years later under Mayor James Leonard T. Gordon, Olongapo was reconverted to a chartered city on June 1, 1966. Olongapo City administers itself autonomously from Zambales province. Adjacent to the city is the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, which until 1992 was a United States naval base. Like his father before him, Mayor Richard Gordon lobbied for the turnover of the facility and its conversion into a freeport after the Senate of the Philippines rejected an extension of a treaty with the United States government. The city is known for its innovative methods of urban management in the 1980s in addressing crime and cleanliness that has been copied by local governments nationwide. These include the public utility color-code, traffic management system, waste management system earning Olongapo City national and international award such as the UNESCO Cities for Peace representing Asia and the Pacific in 1997 and the Konrad Adenauer Local Medal of Excellence in 1999. Furthermore, the Asian Development Bank and World Bank have also recognized its successful urban redevelopment and city development strategy after the US Base turnover.

On the issue of Preservation and Protection of Land Control Points and Parcel Maps, Regidor De Leon, executive director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Central Luzon, said that land monuments are actually satellite-fed geodetic control points which are marked on the ground by “mojons”. “These land monuments provide important and precise information on the exact location, boundary, and coordinates of an area. Using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and state-of-the-art equipment, surveying and mapping has never been more accurate since the 1900s,” he explained. A total of 170 new land monuments have already been established in the provinces of Bataan and Zambales covering 25 towns, while 220 old monuments have been “recovered” since the PRS92 project started in 2007. Recovery of old monuments involved re-establishing or restoring those that have been destroyed or moved to another place to make sure that their coordinates are still accurate and can still be used as reference for geodetic surveys. This year, at least 480 old mojons shall be recovered in the provinces of Zambales and Nueva Ecija and 220 more monuments shall be put up in Zambales by DENR engineers and reputable private surveyors accredited by the DENR. The establishment of additional survey monuments in closer intervals constitutes the “densification” component of PRS92 which intends to speed up surveying activities while bringing down surveying costs as “tie points” become geographically nearer, explained DENR engineer Cesar Amada of the Regional Composite Survey Team (RCST). “As tie points become geographically nearer to each other, the more accurate the survey becomes. This reduces the risk of surveying error and eliminates additional costs for corrective survey,” he said. Under the PRS92 “Adopt-a-Mojon” program, the DENR enters into partnership with local governments and other institutions for the joint protection of these land monuments. Most of the old mojons are now found in isolated private backyards and residential areas. Many have been removed or destroyed to give way to construction and development. Still others are vandalized by treasure hunters and ordinary citizens who mistake them for markers for some buried treasure. The DENR is set to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Mayors’ League of Pampanga, Bataan, and Aurora for the “Adopt-a-Mojon” Program. “What ordinary citizens do not know is that these mojons hold the key to settling bitter boundary disputes and land conflict cases which clog the local courts by the hundreds each year,” De Leon explained, adding that precise surveys are also needed in guiding local governments in their real property valuation, tax collection, and land use planning. He said the DENR is set to complete the establishment of PRS92 control points throughout the country by 2010 to bring the country’s level of surveying and mapping at par with global standards. “We expect the PRS92 project to help settle all land conflict cases, allow greater efficiency in land administration, and promote development not only here in Central Luzon but in the entire country,” De Leon explained.

The current trend of government agencies undertaking land surveys, mapping, classification, disposition and registration is hampered by fundamental legal and institutional defects in both the structure and operations of the land administration system. These have resulted in a long standing and pervasive land administration inefficiencies including extensive delays in the disposition and titling of alienable and disposable land, inaccurate and incomplete land records, duplicate and fake titles, duplication and overlapping of activities between government agencies, and unnecessary costs to both the national and local governments and the general public.

To address these problems, the Philippine government recognizes the need to undertake the necessary reforms to consolidate and streamline land administration powers and functions within a single government agency. This includes the adoption of workable policies and programs to accelerate and complete the titling and registration of alienable and disposable lands, ensure equitable distribution and full use and development of lands and establish a sustainable and viable land administration through a computerized administration. In addition, it will provide accessible, efficient and affordable services to the people through a One-Stop-Shops nationwide, establish an effective information system, facilitate the abolition of judicial registration of title in favor of more simple processes, and improve the skills of and career opportunities for government employees engaged in the provision of land administration services.

In a sense of urgency, Senator Edgardo J. Angara is pushing aggressively a Land Administration Reform Act to enable the land sector to contribute to economic growth by optimizing their contribution to the goals of national development, eradication of poverty and the achievement of social, economic and cultural justice and asset reform.

Senator Angara stresses a fundamental belief that "land is vital to the people's sense of security and quest for a better quality of life. But the security of people's land tenure can only be achieved through an efficient land administration system including efficient survey and mapping of land, first-time titling of alienable and disposable land, registration of land titles and title transfer and public land management."

"This may be a long and slow process, but it will be an important milestone for our lands and for our farmers. In the end, we all strive for a common core objective—to contribute to nation-building and further development by maximizing our resources and encouraging our farmers to cooperate with our initiatives. After all, this all starts with them and ends with them," Sen. Angara expresses with optimism.

Introduced by Senator Gordon, Senate Bill 3429 or an Act Reforming the Administrative Titling Process, which passed on third reading in the Senate, will help the country towards its goal of attaining a robust economy. This free patent bill will benefit millions of Filipinos with untitled lands. According to Gordon, approximately 39 million Filipinos would be able to legally obtain the lands that they possessed in the concept of owner for a long period of time once the free patent bill is passed into law.

Section of the Bill states that "Any natural born citizen of the Philippines who is the head of the family, who is not the owner of more than an aggregate of twelve (12) hectares and who for at least thirty (30) years prior to the affectivity of this amendatory Act and ten (10) years prior to filing of application for patent has continually occupied, and cultivated or possessed either himself/herself or through his/her predecessors in interest of tract or tracts of agricultural public lands subject to disposition, [who shall have paid the real estate tax thereon while the same has not been occupied by any person] shall be entitled, under the provisions of this Chapter, to have a free patent issued to him/her for such tract or tracts of land not to exceed twelve (12) hectares, inclusive of his/her currently owned lands, provided that if there are tenants, share croppers, regular or seasonal farm workers on the land, the issuance of a free patent to the applicant shall be without prejudice to their rights under existing land reform laws." This is intended to ease the requirements and/or procedures in the titling of residential and commercial lands.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License