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Mateo Carino (plaintiff in error) vs.

Insular Government of the Philippines (defendant in error) 212 US 449, 41 Phil Justice Holmes How it reached the court: - Plaintiff applied for registration of a certain land. Initially it was granted by the court, but the Government of the Philippines and the government of the United states appealed to the Court of first instance of Benguet (they were taking the property for public and military purposes. The CFI dismissed the application (for registration) and this was affirmed by the Philippine Supreme Court. This was brought to the US Supreme court by writ of error. Facts: - Plaintiff, an Igorot, possessed the land for more than 30 years before the treaty of Paris. He and his ancestors had held the land for years. The local community recognizes them as the owners of the said land. His grandfather lived upon it and maintained fences around the property. His father raised cattle on the property and he had inherited the land according to Igorot custom. Although no title was issued to them from the Spanish Crown. He tried twice to have it registered during the Spanish occupation but to no avail. In 1901 he filed a petition alleging ownership of the land but he was only granted a possessory title. - Premilinary issues. o Whether the mode of reaching the US supreme court was right (this was a writ of error, some were saying that it should have been an appeal) Holmes said that the mode was correct. Writ of error was the general rule, appeal is the exception. He saw no reason not to apply the general rule to this case. o Another issue was that even if Carino was able to have a title over the land, he could not have it registered because Benguet was one of the excluded provinces in the Philippine Commissions act no. 926 (AN ACT PRESCRIBING RULES AND REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE HOMESTEADING, SELLING, AND LEASING OF PORTIONS OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS). But that law dealt with acquisition of new titles and perfecting of titles begun under the Spanish law. Carino argued that he could register the land under Philippine Commissions Act no. 496 which covered the entire Philippine archipelago. Holmes held that he could register the land if ownership can be maintained Main issue: whether Carino owns the land. o Governments argument: Spain had title to all the land in the Philippines except those it saw fit to permit private titles to be acquired. That there was a decree issued by Spain that required registration within a limited time. Carinos land wasnt registered and so in effect it became public land. USSC: Whatever the position of Spain was on the issue, it does not follow that the US would view plaintiff to have lost all his rights to the land this would amount to a denial of native titles throughout Benguet just because Spain would not have granted to anyone in the province the registration of their lands. Organic act of July 1, 1902 provides that all the property and rights acquired there by the US would be for the benefit of the inhabitants thereof. This same statute made a bill of rights embodying the safeguards of the constitution, it provides that 'no law shall be enacted in said islands which shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or deny to any person therein the equal protection of the laws. It would be hard to believe that that any person didnt include the inhabitants of Benguet. Nor it meant property to refer only to those lands which had become such under a ceremony(of registration) many of the people of the land may have not even heard of. Although in sec. 14 of the organic act, it is said that the Philippine commission

may prescribe rules and regulations for perfecting titles to public lands, it should be noted that this section refers to those cases where the land was admitted to be public land. The US SC hesitates to suppose that it was intended to declare every native who had not a paper title, a trespasser. The question still remains: what property and rights did the US acquire? in cases like this one, the presumption would and should be against the government. As far back as memory goes, the land has been held by individuals under a claim of private ownership, it was never public land. It would not be proper to just let the conqueror to dictate how to deal with the Philippine tribes if it really meant to use the rights acquired by them for the benefit of the inhabitants thereof. The natives were recognized by the Spanish laws to own some lands, irrespective of any royal grant. They didnt intend to turn all the inhabitants into trespassers. Principle of prescription was admitted: that if they werent able to produce title deeds, it is sufficient if they show ancient possession, as a valid title by prescription. although there was a decree in June 25, 1880 that required everyone to get a document of title or else lose his land, it does not appear that it meant to apply to all but only those who wrongfully occupied royal lands. IT doesnt appear that the land of Carino was considered as Royal land nor was it considered to have been wrongfully occupied. Two articles of the same decree provided that titles would be attributed to those who may prove possession for the necessary time. There were indications that registration was expected but it didnt mean that ownership actually gained would be lost. The effect of the proof was not to confer title to them but to establish it. Law and justice require that the applicant should be granted what he seeks and should not be deprived of what, by the practice and belief of those among whom he lived, was his property, through a refined interpretation of an almost forgotten law of Spain. Judgment reversed