Operational glitches in Philippine land administration and management

Rough “guesstimates” suggest that only about half of the estimated 22 million parcels of land in the country are titled. Most of these untitled properties are located in urban and low income settings, and approximately 39 million Filipinos stand to benefit from the government’s land titling program.

— via Philippine Inquirer.

Land titling in the country is perilously slow. Yes, perilously. Claimants, and I’d like to focus on the country’s indigenous people, walk around their towns with the label ‘squatters’ invisibly etched on their foreheads in the wait for the titles of their land. They’re “squatters” because of persistent inadequacies of government.

You’d think the agency(ies) responsible for the titling is somewhere far off, a planet, and there has been an interplanetary collision and that it’s been smashed in between. But no the oft-cited reason for the delay is as ridiculous as — lack of hardware and personnel! (Incidentally, such reasoning is not confined to land titling agencies but to many government agencies.)

(If I were the agency head and officers come to me with ‘lack of computers’, I’d give them such a beating, figuratively speaking, and because I’d have probably worked myself into a rage at that point, I’d be liable to holler “so go fucking buy one!” As agency head, you want your people to come to you offering their minds to what can solve problems, not happily presenting themselves as part of the problem. But when the problem is the agency head? Oh, what a problem indeed!)

Lack of funds? How much is an iPAD — PHP25,000? Yet, how come managers have one each, on the agency? How much oil does a fleet of red-plated SUV guzzle up in a day?

Lack of personnel? How many university students are applying for internship? There are brilliant IT Filipino students out there, if we only look for them, believe in them, trust them, appreciate them. How many universities with world-class IT programs are around? They are only too happy to be approached by government, to work on good projects for the country.

Lack of technology? It’s preposterous that agency people maintain official Facebook accounts with each other, but the database and system that should link its products to public users are non-existent or malfunctioning.

Lack of hardware and personnel are not mind-fuck glitches but basic operating items that are budgeted as a matter of course, even at the level of supervisors and middle managers. Lack of political will should not be used to cover up day-to-day operational inefficiencies.

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