LAND SITUATION DURING SPANISH RULEIntroduction
Spanish Era. The policy of the Spanish government was to recognize all lands in the Philippines as part of the public domain. During this era the Spanish crown was free to give vast tracts of Philippine land, including the resources and inhabitants, to loyal civilians and military servants asrewards. During this period Encomienda System was practiced with respect to how land isdistributed.
In 1570, the encomienda was introduced to the Philippines when Legaspi distributed lands in Cebuto loyal Spanish subjects.The word encomienda is derived from the verb meaning to commend or to charge one’s care.The encomienda is a labor system that was employed by the Spanish crownduring theSpanish colonization of the Americasand thePhilippines. In the encomienda, the crown
granted a person a specified number of natives for whom they were to take responsibility. Thereceiver of the grant was to protect the natives fromwarring tribesand to instruct them in theSpanish languageand in the Catholic faith. In return, they could exact tribute from the natives inthe form of labor, gold or other products, such as in corn, wheat or chickens. Originally, theencomiender was e feudal institution used in Spain during the reconquista to reward deservinggenerals and conquerors. The encomienda system was not a land grant. It was an administrativeunit for the purpose of exacting tribute from the natives. Each encomiendero had a threefoldresponsibility: to protect the natives by maintaining peace and order within thr encomienda; tosupport the missionaries in their work of converting the people to Catholicism; and to help in thedefense of the colony. In return to these services, the Crown authorized the encomiendero tocollect tribute of eight reales annually from all males inhabitants of his encomienda between agesof nineteen and sixty.
The Dominican fathers having leased their lands to mestizos, these hold them as inquilinos oncondition of each one paying for three or four years, after which they were to pay five cavans of rice for every cavalita of irrigated land. The estate owners are not allowed to increase the groundrent, even though the prices of everything else have increased enormously. Neither are theyallowed to lease the land to others, unless the leaseholders fail to pay the rent for two consecutiveyears. This is a policy of which the inquilino play unfairly by disposing of the lands as though theyowned them.They sell them, or mortgage it to those wealthier than they pay; and by the mere factof being inquilinos, without doing a stroke of work, they make more than the estate ownersthemselves.