Cariño v. Insular Government,
212 U.S. 449 (1909)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Cariño v. Insular Government, 212 U.S. 449 (1909)

Cariño 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 to this Court. The latter method is in the main confined to equity cases, and the former is proper to bring up a judgment of the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands affirming a judgment of the Court of Land Registration dismissing an application for registration of land.

Although a province may be excepted from the operation of Act No. 926 of 1903 of the Philippine Commission which provides for the registration and perfecting of new titles, one who actually owns property in such province is entitled to registration under Act No. 496 of 1902, which applies to the whole archipelago.

While, in legal theory and as against foreign nations, sovereignty is absolute, practically it is a question of strength and of varying degree, and it is for a new sovereign to decide how far it will insist upon theoretical relations of the subject to the former sovereign 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 lands occupied by the inhabitants, and under the Organic Act of July 1, 1902, c. 1369, 32 Stat. 691, providing that property rights are to be administered for the benefit of the inhabitants, one who actually owned land for many years cannot be deprived of it for failure to comply with certain ceremonies prescribed either by the acts of the Philippine Commission or by Spanish law.

The Organic Act of the Philippines made a bill of rights embodying safeguards of the Constitution, and, like the Constitution, extends those safeguards to all.

Every presumption of ownership is in favor of one actually occupying land for many years, and against the government which seeks to deprive him of it, for failure to comply with provisions of a subsequently enacted registration act.

Title by prescription against the crown existed under Spanish law in force in the Philippine Islands prior to their acquisition by the United States, and one occupying land in the Province of Benguet for more than fifty years before the Treaty of Paris is entitled to the continued possession thereof.

7 Phil. 132 reversed.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 212 U. S. 455

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