Jover y Costas v. Insular Government
221 U.S. 623 (1911)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Jover y Costas v. Insular Government, 221 U.S. 623 (1911)

Jover y Costas v. Insular Government of the Philippine Islands

Nos. 112, 113

Argued April 7, 1911

Decided May 29, 1911

221 U.S. 623




Article 46 of the Constitution of Spain as existing in 1859, providing that, in order to alienate, cede, or exchange any part of Spanish territory, the King required the authority of a special law, related to transference of national sovereignty and not to disposal of public land as property.

The laws of the Partida which affirm that the sea and its shore are among the things that are common to all men are not to be so literally construed, as held by the Spanish courts prior to the cession of the Philippine Islands, as prohibiting a grant of tidelands to one desiring to reclaim and improve them.

The Governor General of the Philippine Islands under Spanish rule possessed all the powers of the King except where otherwise provided, and a grant of lands made by him was valid unless in violation of law specially prohibiting him from making it.

Where the local authorities in the Philippine Islands, with full knowledge

Page 221 U. S. 624

of the circumstances under which a grant was made, imposed taxes on the property for many, in this case thirty-nine, years, it is persuasive proof that the grant was valid and that the Governor General did not exceed his authority in making it.

A grant of tidelands, although made upon condition of reclamation, is not defeated by failure to reclaim if the granting words import a present and immediate transfer of ownership, and so held as to a grant of such lands in the Philippine Islands where the grantee was "granted possession and ownership," and there was no express condition either precedent or subsequent that the land be reclaimed within any definite period.

Where a practical interpretation has been given to a grant of land by the public officials authorized to interpret it, full effect should be given thereto.

The appropriate method to review judgments of the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands in cases from the Court of Land Registration is by writ of error, and not by appeal.

10 Phil. 522 reversed.

The facts, which involve the validity of a grant of lands in the Philippine Islands made prior to the cession to the United States, are stated in the opinion.

MR. JUSTICE VAN DEVANTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

This was a petition to the Court of Land Registration of the Philippine Islands for the registration of the title to a tract of land in the City of Manila, claimed to have been granted to Don Jose Camps, February 12, 1859, by a decree of the Governor General of those islands, reading as follows:

Page 221 U. S. 625

"Acting upon the petition in which Don Jose Camps on November 17, 1858, solicited a grant for the land which he fills at his expense on the lowlands situated along the northern wharf (Murallon del Norte) and on the north side thereof, on the right side of the mouth of the Pasig River, with an extension of 200 brazas in length and 100 brazas in width, beginning at a distance of 25 varas (Spanish yards) west of the bridge built on said wharf for the connection of the waters of the river and of the bay from the beach of Binondo, as appears on the plan hereto attached, to which land, after it has been filled in, he intends to move his artistic establishment called 'Camps e Hijos,' and a manufactory of hemp rope; in view of the report made on the 26th of the said month of November by the Alcalde Mayor 1.

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