THE National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 has filed criminal and administrative charges against seven officials and employees of the Cebu City Registry of Deeds and five private individuals over the alleged falsification of a land title.
Sued before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas are the following Land Registration Authority (LRA) officials and employees:
Benedicto Taylan, deputy register of deeds IV of the Registry of Deeds Cebu City; Analie Ulieras, claim assessment and printing clerk; Adonis Flores, cashier and administrative officer III; Bihildes Lumayag, administrative officer V; Jean Ruby Bucotcot, uploader; Ivy Cabanog, crafts and trade helper; and Gerelean Marquez, cashier/fee collector.
Meanwhile, the following private individuals were charged by the NBI 7 for the transaction: Arries Llenos, Aireen llenos, Stanley Villacin, Christina Villacin, and Federico Cabilao, Jr., a lawyer for the Villacins.
NBI 7 director Rennan Augustus Oliva, on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021, said all were collectively criminally charged for violation of Sec. 3 (e) of Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, violation of RA 6713 or the Code of Ethical Standards for Government Officials and Employees, Falsification of public documents under Art. 172 in relation to Art.171 of the Revised Penal Code, Violation of RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 under Section 4(a)(1) (illegal access) and section 4 (b) (1) (I) (computer related forgery).
Moreover, Arries Llenos was also charged with swindling, while the seven LRA officers also faced grave misconduct charges.
Oliva said their investigation was based on a complaint filed by Eric Nubla, Ingrid Santamaria, and Esteban Yau, said to be the real owners of the land property involved in the case; and on a referral for investigation by the LRA in Quezon City.
Oliva said the complainants alleged they were deprived of the ownership of their 5.5 hectare land located at Nivel Hills in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City worth P1.5 billion through falsified deeds of sales and with the connivance of the officers and employees of the Cebu City Registry of Deeds.
“A fake title was produced depriving the owners of their property and giving it to a third person. In the process also, depriving the government of taxes, national and local taxes due to the government,” Oliva said.
SunStar Cebu has yet to get the side of those accused by the NBI.
The NBI 7 said the complainants bought the property from the Philippine National Bank (PNB) in 1994 for P12,755,999.
In 1999, Nubla immigrated to the United States and left a duplicate copy of the land title to his wife, Cecilia.
In 2003, the complainants learned that Villacin, the owner of a house located in an adjacent lot encroached on their property, according to the NBI.
In 2019, Nubla decided to go back to the country. Upon checking his property, he learned that ownership had been transferred to one Arries llenos supposedly by virtue of a sale executed and contracted in 1999 by them and Llenos as vendee.
NBI 7 supervising agent Arnel Pura said this case involves the falsification of certificate of titles.
Pura said the first fraud committed by the public officers and employees in conspiracy with the private individuals was the illegal generation of an e-title of the complainants’ property in 2017 by the accused.
Pura said three requirements are needed for the transfer of a manual title into an e-title: the verified petition, the original copy of the title of the lot in possession of the Registry of Deeds, and the owner’s duplicate copy.
If the owner requests for his manual title to be converted to an e-title, he must first surrender his manual copy, he said.
In this case, Pura said, there was no submission of the owner’s duplicate of the title and instead, the original copy was retrieved by the accused officials and used in lieu of the owner’s duplicate copy.
“This was blindly accepted by these public officials. They closed their eyes and had this process,” he said.
Pura said the NBI included other personnel in the case because they happened to be involved from the acceptance of the petition up to the generation, printing and release of the illegally obtained e-title.
The e-title generated in 2017, including three fake deeds of sale, were reportedly also used and accepted the following year for purposes of transferring the property from Llenos to Villacin.
“Surprisingly, when we conducted the investigation, this fake title was found to be missing and then it was presented to us when the lawyer of Llenos came to the office and presented this title in favor of Villacin together with the fake PNB manual title,” Pura said.
Oliva said the LRA also conducted its own internal investigation after the complainants brought the case to their attention.
The LRA’s findings showed that the issuance of the e-title in favor of Villacin was “highly irregular” which resulted in its cancellation.
Oliva said while government encourages the generation of the e-title from the manual title to help eliminate illegal or double titling or any other discrepancy, sadly, this program was defeated in this particular case.
The original titles have now been reinstated to its original owners.
“One of the pieces of evidence that we are attaching is the LRA finding as well as the non-payment of revenues for the transfer of the land,” he said.
The owners are coordinating with the Cebu City Office of the Building Official for the possible demolition of the building and developments illegally made in their property.