This will only be my second post about law this year and I have chosen to feature land and property ownership in the Philippines dedicated to all those foreigners whom in one way or another have landed in this humble blogsite.
As a general rule, only a Filipino citizen or a corporation organized under Philippine law, where at least 60% of the capital stock is owned by citizens of the Philippines, may own land in the Philippines. A foreigner may own land by hereditary succession, or if he is a former natural-born Filipino.
The Supreme Court held that hereditary succession only applies to intestate succession or succession by operation of law, and not to testamentary succession. Otherwise, the general prohibition against land ownership by a foreigner may be negated. When the foreigner is a natural-born Filipino, he may acquire private land subject to limitations provided by law. For instance, he may own a maximum area of five thousand square meter of urban land or three hectares of rural land.
In case of real properties, there is generally no prohibition against foreign ownership of real property other than land. Thus, foreigners may own houses but not the land upon which they are built. They can however lease this land.
Foreigners may own condominium units, provided the land on which the condominium stands is owned by a corporation where at least 60% of the capital stock is owned by citizens of the Philippines even after a foreigner acquires ownership of a condominium unit.
Although a foreigner is not allowed to own land, he can however lease private land in the Philippines. The maximum period of the lease of private land to foreigners is twenty-five years, renewable for another twenty-five years upon mutual agreement of the parties. Subject to certain conditions, however, a foreign investor may lease private land for a maximum period of fifty years, renewable once for a period of not more than twenty-five years upon mutual agreement of the parties. For the foreign investors to take advantage of the longer lease term, the law requires, among other, things that the purpose of the lease is the establishment of industrial estate, factories, assembly or processing plants, agro-industrial enterprises, land development for tourism, industrial or commercial use, or similar priority productive endeavors.
Although the law does not provide for this, there is also another way of buying the Philippines – that is for the foreigners to enter into a multi-billion IT and telecommunications contract with the president, her husband and her cabinet members in exchange for renouncing a claim against a group of islands which historically belongs to the Philippines. Now… this will be another interesting topic and requires a solo post of its own.
Congratulations to all my friends who passed the 2007 Bar Examinations:
ATTY. JOHN ALBERT REYES
ATTY. RACHELLE ERNIE
Welcome to the wonderful and crazy world of LAW!!!