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    Dear readers, I hope that everyone is now getting ready to start their spring cleaning especially with their garden.  This is one thing that I am not really good at and at this time, the more I’m missing my husband, Henry who I lost after 15 years of battle with Parkinson’s disease.  He has the green [...]

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Page added on December 21, 2010

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The Philippine Lawyer – CAN FOREIGNERS LEGALLY OWN REAL PROPERTY IN THE PHILIPPINES THROUGH THEIR SPOUSES ?

-Atty. Ferdie Aguirre

(About the writer: G. Ferdinand (Ferdie) Aguirre has more than 20 years of combined experience as a legal professional in the Philippines and in Canada.  After graduating from the Ateneo de Manila College of Law in 1987 and passing the Bar given that year, he has held the following positions in the Philippine Corporate world: Asst. Senior Vice President of the Philippine National Bank, Senior Manager of the Law Division of the Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company and as Chief Legal Counsel of Unibancard.  His private practice included having successfully handled several major cases and being included in the Philippine case books.  Ferdie Aguirre was also a professor of Political Science and Business Law before migrating to Ontario Canada in 2005 where worked as a Paralegal. He is presently a Court Agent & a Commissioner of Oaths in Alberta and is now working on his admission to the Alberta Bar.  Ferdie Aguirre may be reached at (403) 6131168 /403 4747168 or at pilipinolegalservices@yahoo.ca)

CAN FOREIGNERS LEGALLY  OWN REAL PROPERTY IN HE PHILIPPINES THROUGH THEIR SPOUSES ?

Elena and Helmut were married in Canada in 1989. The couple resided in Canada  at a house owned by Helmut’s parents but decided to move and reside permanently in the Philippines in 1992. By this time, Helmut had inherited the house in Germany from his parents which he sold and used the proceeds for the purchase of a parcel of land in Antipolo, Rizal at the cost of P528,000.00 and the construction of a house amounting to P2,300,000.00. The Antipolo property was registered in the name of petitioner under Transfer Certificate of Title No. 219438 5 of the Register of Deeds of Marikina, Metro Manila.

After experiencing the nightlife Manila has to offer, Helmut became abusive and cruel to Elena until Elena was forced to file for legal separation.  After the judgment was rendered, Helmut filed a civil claim to seek reimbursement from his wife for the purchase and construction of their conjugal home.

WILL HELMUT BE REIMBURSED FOR HIS EXPENSES IN PURCHASING THEIR CONJUGAL HOME ?

There is an express prohibition against foreigners owning land in the Philippines.  In putting the house in the name of Elena, Helmut tried to do indirectly what he is prohibited from doing directly.  Because of this, the Philippine Supreme Court denied his claim citing the constitutional prohibition on foreigners owning land in Philippines and we quote:

Xxx Further, the distinction made between transfer of ownership as opposed to recovery of funds is a futile exercise on respondent’s part. To allow reimbursement would in effect permit respondent to enjoy the fruits of a property which he is not allowed to own. Thus, it is likewise proscribed by law. Xxx As expressly held in Cheesman v. Intermediate Appellate Court: 16

Finally, the fundamental law prohibits the sale to aliens of residential land. Section 14, Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution ordains that, “Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private land shall be transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.” Petitioner Thomas Cheesman was, of course, charged with knowledge of this prohibition. Thus, assuming that it was his intention that the lot in question be purchased by him and his wife, he acquired no right whatever over the property by virtue of that purchase; and in attempting to acquire a right or interest in land, vicariously and clandestinely, he knowingly violated the Constitution; the sale as to him was null and void. In any event, he had and has no capacity or personality to question the subsequent sale of the same property by his wife on the theory that in so doing he is merely exercising the prerogative of a husband in respect of conjugal property. To sustain such a theory would permit indirect controversion of the constitutional prohibition. If the property were to be declared conjugal, this would accord to the alien husband a not insubstantial interest and right over land, as he would then have a decisive vote as to its transfer or disposition. This is a right that the Constitution does not permit him to have .xxx

xxxThus, in the instant case, Helmut cannot seek reimbursement on the ground of equity where it is clear that he willingly and knowingly bought the property despite the constitutional prohibition. xxx (G.R. No. 149615 August 29, 2006IN RE: PETITION FOR SEPARATION OF PROPERTY ELENA BUENAVENTURA MULLER, Petitioner, vs.HELMUT MULLER, Respondent)

(Legal Disclaimer: This article is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be neither formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.)









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