Can A Filipino or Foreigner Buy DAR-Titled Land? (Department of Agrarian Reform)

peter's picture

Have you seen the land titles in the Philippines?  Some of them are written in English, some in tagalog, some of them are issued by the Bureau of Lands, some from the Department of Agrarian Reform, some appear to be written by Presidents, and some are even from the United States government.  So, are these titles secure?

The answer I've found is that most titles that are issued can be transferred - but the one type of title that is most problematic is those issued by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

Here in the Philippines, DAR titles are given from time to time when land is redistributed and broken up, usually to tenant farmers.  The titles usually say that the land cannot be transferred, but then it gets vague - that they can be transferred to family, that they can be transferred ten or more years after the issuance, etc. 

Well, I've now investigated a bunch of these titles here locally in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental.

The basic answer that I found from many lawyers and from all offices of DAR is that the titles cannot be transferred.  If you're a Filipino, you can buy the land, take occupancy, and get a receipt that you bought it, but you are not guaranteed that you'll be issued a title.  Sometimes, the DAR officers after years of begging will allow a new tenant to get a new (DAR) title for the DAR land they "illegally" bought.  But on the other hand, you run the risk of never getting a title.  Of course if you're a foreigner, you're not allowed to own land in any case, so don't even think about trying to buy DAR land!

One local lawyer said he would happily conduct a sale and give us a deed of sale for a DAR property, but that he would never try to process it through the offices, which is a very difficult process, and cannot be done by a lawyer but only by a begging "landowner".

In short, as another lawyer told us, just avoid DAR-titled property, whether it's in the beach, mountains, whatever - because any change of local or general government calls the legitimacy of your title into question.  Just by anything else.  Of course, the "anything else" title had better be thorougly investigated on its own merits as well!