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Carino vs. Insular Government

Carino vs. Insular Government

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Published by: tinayski on Jun 24, 2011
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Carino v. Insular Government, 212 U.S. 449 (1909)
Carino v. Insular Government of the Philippine Islands
No. 72
Argued January 13, 1909
Decided February 23, 1909
212 U.S. 449
 Writ of error is the general, and appeal the exceptional, method of bringing Cases tothis Court. The latter method is in the main confined to equity cases, and the former isproper to bring up a judgment of the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands affirminga judgment of the Court of Land Registration dismissing an application for registrationof land.Although a province may be excepted from the operation of Act No. 926 of 1903 of thePhilippine Commission which provides for the registration and perfecting of new titles,one who actually owns property in such province is entitled to registration under ActNo. 496 of 1902, which applies to the whole archipelago.While, in legal theory and as against foreign nations, sovereignty is absolute, practicallyit is a question of strength and of varying degree, and it is for a new sovereign todecide how far it will insist upon theoretical relations of the subject to the formersovereign and how far it will recognize actual facts.Page 212 U. S. 450 The acquisition of the Philippines was not for the purpose of acquiring the landsoccupied by the inhabitants, and under the Organic Act of July 1, 1902, c. 1369, 32Stat. 691, providing that property rights are to be administered for the benefit of theinhabitants, one who actually owned land for many years cannot be deprived of it forfailure to comply with certain ceremonies prescribed either by the acts of the PhilippineCommission or by Spanish law.
The Organic Act of the Philippines made a bill of rights embodying safeguards of theConstitution, and, like the Constitution, extends those safeguards to all.Every presumption of ownership is in favor of one actually occupying land for manyyears, and against the government which seeks to deprive him of it, for failure tocomply with provisions of a subsequently enacted registration act.Title by prescription against the crown existed under Spanish law in force in thePhilippine Islands prior to their acquisition by the United States, and one occupying landin the Province of Benguet for more than fifty years before the Treaty of Paris is entitledto the continued possession thereof.7 Phil. 132 reversed.The facts are stated in the opinion.Page 212 U. S. 455 MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the Court.This was an application to the Philippine Court of Land Registration for the registrationof certain land. The application was granted by the court on March 4, 1904. An appealwas taken to the Court of First Instance of the Province of Benguet on behalf of thegovernment of the Philippines, and also on behalf of the United States, thosegovernments having taken possession of the property for public and military purposes.The Court of First Instance found the facts and dismissed the application upon groundsof law. This judgment was affirmed by the supreme court, 7 Phil. 132, and the casethen was brought here by writ of error.The material facts found are very few. The applicant and plaintiff in error is an Igorot of the Province of Benguet, where the land lies. For more than fifty years before theTreaty of Page 212 U. S. 456 Paris, April 11, 1899, as far back as the findings go, the plaintiff and his ancestors hadheld the land as owners. His grandfather had lived upon it, and had maintained fencessufficient for the holding of cattle, according to the custom of the country, some of thefences, it seems, having been of much earlier date. His father had cultivated parts andhad used parts for pasturing cattle, and he had used it for pasture in his turn. They allhad been recognized as owners by the Igorots, and he had inherited or received the
land from his father in accordance with Igorot custom. No document of title, however,had issued from the Spanish Crown, and although, in 1893-1894 and again in 1896-1897, he made application for one under the royal decrees then in force, nothing seemsto have come of it, unless, perhaps, information that lands in Benguet could not beconceded until those to be occupied for a sanatorium, etc., had been designated -- apurpose that has been carried out by the Philippine government and the United States.In 1901, the plaintiff filed a petition, alleging ownership, under the mortgage law, andthe lands were registered to him, that process, however, establishing only a possessorytitle, it is said.Before we deal with the merits, we must dispose of a technical point. The governmenthas spent some energy in maintaining that this case should have been brought up byappeal, and not by writ of error. We are of opinion, however, that the mode adoptedwas right. The proceeding for registration is likened to bills in equity to quiet title, but itis different in principle. It is a proceeding
under a statute of the type of theTorrens Act, such as was discussed in
Tyler v. Court of Reg
175 Mass. 71. It isnearer to law than to equity, and is an assertion of legal title; but we think itunnecessary to put it into either pigeon hole. A writ of error is the general method of bringing cases to this Court, an appeal the exception, confined to equity in the main.There is no reason for not applying the general rule to this case.
Ormsby v. Webb
 134U. S. 47,134 U. S. 65;
Campbell v. Porter 
 162 U. S. 478;
R. Co. v.D
t of Columb
 195 U. S. 322.Page 212 U. S. 457 Another preliminary matter may as well be disposed of here. It is suggested that, evenif the applicant have title, he cannot have it registered, because the PhilippineCommission's Act No. 926, of 1903, excepts the Province of Benguet among othersfrom its operation. But that act deals with the acquisition of new titles by homesteadentries, purchase, etc., and the perfecting of titles begun under the Spanish law. Theapplicant's claim is that he now owns the land, and is entitled to registration under thePhilippine Commission's Act No. 496, of 1902, which established a court for thatpurpose with jurisdiction "throughout the Philippine Archipelago," § 2, and authorized ingeneral terms applications to be made by persons claiming to own the legal estate infee simple, as the applicant does. He is entitled to registration if his claim of ownershipcan be maintained.

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