Spanish public land laws (English translation) in the Philippine Islands and their history to August 13, 1898 online

. (page 1 of 6)
Online LibraryPhilippinesSpanish public land laws (English translation) in the Philippine Islands and their history to August 13, 1898 → online text (page 1 of 6)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook















CAPT. GEOKGE P. AHEKN, Ninth U. S. Infantry,

In Charge of Forestry Bureau.


GREGORIO BASA, Assistant Forester.







List of authorities consulted 5

Spanish public land laws in the Philippine Islands 7

History of the land laws in the Philippine Islands to August 13, 1898 7

Land law in force in the Philippine Islands August 13, 1898 9

Chapter I. Salable and reservable land 9

Chapter II. Adjustment of lands 10

Chapter III. Alienation of public lands 11

Chapter IV. Procedure necessary to acquire prescriptive title 15

Chapter V. Town property and common use thereof 16

Regulations for the execution of the royal decree of February 13, 1894 19

Chapter I. Salable and reservable lands 19

Chapter II. Adjustment of lands 20

Chapter III. Alienation of Crown lands 29

Abstract of the principal decrees, orders, circulars, etc., relating to State lands. 37

Laws relating to the sale of lands 37

Agricultural colonies 41

Adjustment of State lands 41

Remarks by Gregorio Basa, assistant forester 50

Index 56



Manila Gaceta . Complete from the year 1861, in

office of Superior Provost
Court, Manila.

Diccionario de Administracion Complete in Bureau of Archives;
R. Berriz. complete in Forestry Bureau.

(7 uia del Comprador de Terrenes One private copy in Forestry
baldios realengos R. Berriz Bureau.
(Guide to purchaser public

Librito de Disposiciones Oficiales For la Insp. Gen. de Montes.
(Book of official acts). One private copy in Forestry


Legislacion Ultramarina . Por R. San Pedro. Complete in

Bureau of Archives; complete
in Forestry Bureau.

Faro Administrative. . Copy in Forestry Bureau.

Boletin del Ministerio de Ultramar Complete in Forestry Bureau;
(Supplements R. San Pedro). complete in Bureau of Archives.

Laws of the Indias





AUGUST 13, 1898.

At the time of the discovery of these islands the population was
small and the area of unoccupied land extensive. Lands were granted
to the discoverers and to the original inhabitants and their descendants
who were to remain in the land.

(See. Laws of the Indias, Volume IV, Chapter XII, Laws I, IV,
and X; Ultramarine Legislation by Rodriguez San Pedro, Volume
IV, from page 666; Guide for the Purchaser of Land, by Rodriguez
Berriz, from page 1.

Although the lands, waters, etc., were conceded gratuitously, the
same laws prescribed the conditions under which and methods by which
these lands were to be acquired, and also fixed the penalties which
would be incurred for noncompliance with said conditions.

(Laws of the Indias, Volume II, Law XXXVI, and Volume IV,
Chapter XII, Laws II, III, V, VI, VII, VIII, X, JQ, and XIV;
Ultramarine Legislation, by Rodriguez San Pedro, Volume IV, from
page 666: Guide, by Rodriguez Berriz, from page 2.)

Laws were afterwards passed relating to adjustments and sales of

(Laws of the Indias, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XX, and

Ultramarine Legislation, by Rodriguez San Pedro, from page 669.

(Guide for the Purchaser of Lands, by Rodriguez Berriz, from
page 6.)

This legislation was enacted to develop agriculture and benefit the
people, and protect not only the new residents but especially the
natives in their holdings. These acts manifest a paternal solicitude in
their welfare, and showed a disposition to grant such lands as they
needed and such as would be a benefit to them.

Among other acts was published later the important royal decree
of October 15, 1754 (Rodriguez San Pedro, Volume IV, p. 673;
Guide, by Rodriguez Berriz, p. 41), concerning concessions of public



Article 81 of the ordinance of 1786 declares that the "intendants"
shall be sole judges in questions of sales, adjustments, and divisions of
lands occurring in their districts, as well as in questions of jurisdic-
tion. Subsequently royal order of September 21, 1797, was promul-
gated (Guide, by Rodriguez Berriz, p. 11) concerning sales and adjust-
ments in these islands, and on March 23, 1798, Royal Cedula Circular
was promulgated (Ultramarine Legislation, by Rodriguez San Pedro,
Volume IV, p. 675; Guide, by Rodriguez Berriz, p. 46), concerning
the methods of facilitating the acquisition of concessions of public
lands, and, lastly, the Cortez of Cadiz passed a decree of January 4,
1813, governing the transfer of public and communal land to private
ownership. (Guide, p. 54.)

The foregoing acts concerning lands form what may be called the
ancient legislation, and have served as a basis and guide in the sales
and adjustments of concessions of lands in these islands until the pro-
mulgation of regulations for the sale and adjustment of lands, the
date of which forms the commencement of what may be termed the
modern legislation.

Regulations for land sales were approved by Royal Decree, Janu-
ary '19, 1883, and those for adjustment were confirmed by Royal
Decree, June 25, 1880.

Subsequent legislation and orders governing sales and adjustment
of lands have been based upon ancient legislation and the regulations
approved by Royal Decree, January 19, 1883.




At the suggestion of the minister for the colonies, after consultation
with the council of ministers:

In the name of my august son, the King Don Alfonso XIII, and as
Queen Regent of the Kingdom,

I hereby decree the following:



ART. 1. All land, soil, ground not under cultivation, and forests in
the Philippine Islands, not included in the following exceptions, shall
be considered salable crown lands:

I. Those which have passed to private ownership and have a lawful

II. Those which belong to forest zones which the state desires to
hold for the commonwealth.

III. Those which are found within the limits of the commons belong-
ing to towns, or within zones which have been granted to said towns
for the use of the people.

IV. Those which shall be awarded to private ownership, whether
b % y adjustment or by possessory right within the time limit and in the
form and manner as provided for herein.

ART. 2. According to the preceding article the lands referred to in
the second and third exceptions are reserved to the State and town,
respectively. No private ownership can be claimed in them by any
process of law, unless they are explicitly declared to be salable by
competent authority.

ART. 3. The Governor-General shall order that all forests belong-
ing to the state, which shall constitute the forest zones thereof, be
designated, inventoried, and the limits marked out, employing for
such work the services of the corps of forestry engineers in provinces
and districts where cultivation has so far advanced or is still advanc-
ing as to be deemed prejudicial to water regulations, public health,
climate, or public interests in general.

In the remainder of the islands no classification or reservation of
forests shall be made at the present time, and all crown lands shall be



considered salable until such a time as an order to the contrary is
issued, to which reference is made in the preceding paragraph.

Land which is to be finall} r declared as being reservable for state
purposes, and the approval or amendment of boundaries marked for
such forest zones, shall be made by the Governor-General at the sug-
gestion of the General Directorate of Civil Administration.



ART. 4. Full title to all crown lands which were open to adjust-
ment in accordance with royal decree of June 25, 1880, but which
adjustment has not been applied for up to the date of publication in
the Manila Gazette (April 17, 1894) of this decree, shall be under-
stood therefrom as having reverted to the state.

No claim shall be allowed, under any form, or, at any time made to
any party, who, having the right to such adjustment, has, nevertheless,
up to the date above mentioned, neglected applying for adjustment.

ART. 5. All persons who have already applied for adjustment of
lands but who have not yet secured it shall renew their petitions
within the nonextendible time of six months from the date of publica-
tion of this decree in the Manila Gazette.

All such renewals not submitted, however, and adjustments not
insisted upon by land holders within the prescribed time limit shall
be barred and the provisions of the preceding article applied to prop-
erty covered only by first application for adjustment. And property,
for which adjustment has not been perfected and carried out after the
petitions therefor have been filed, shall be similarly treated. Never-
theless, where property for which adjustment has been sought once
before is sold within five years from the publication of this decree
the parties filing such petition for adjustment or any of their succes-
sors in interest who are such by right of inheritance shall have the
right of preemption or "tanteo" 1 in such property.

ART. 6. All petitions for adjustment, for which a second petition
insisting thereon has been made within the prescribed time limit, shall
be disposed of in the shortest time practicable according to the laws
in force prior to the present decree, excepting as to the provisions of
article 8, by the General Directorate of Civil Administration, assisted
by the Inspector-General of Forests, whenever such property adjoins
lands belonging to the State or contains more than 30 hectares; in
all other cases they shall be disposed of by the provincial boards
established by decree on municipal organization issued May 19, 1893.

The provincial boards for the adjustment of lands established by
Royal Decree of December 26, 1884, and confirmed by Royal Decree

1( rhe right to take property at the same price sold to another.


of August 31, 1888, are hereb} T dissolved, as are also local commissions
created by the latter decree. Municipal tribunals of towns shall
assume the duties of said local commissions. Before dissolving, boards
of adjustments are hereby directed to deliver to their successors, the
provincial boards, all records and documents which they may hold in
their possession.

ART. 7. No petition for the adjustment of lands shall be received
after the publication of this decree in the Manila Gazette. (April 17,

The General Directorate of Civil Administration shall immediately
provide for an index to be made of all petitions for the adjustment of
lands which have been presented to date.

After the expiration of six months (October 17, 1894), provided for
in article 5, another index of all petitions which have been presented
a second time by the interested parties insisting on adjustment, shall
be made with the same promptness.

Digest of both indices, sufficient to show what adjustments have
been petitioned for in each province or district, shall be published in
the Manila Gazette.

Certified copies of both indices shall be sent to the minister for the

ART. 8. Adjustment of land the title to which is taxable and which
is to be granted through second petition made at the proper time
shall be made as provided in article 10, at the mean price fixed by the
provincial board for the sale of such property, when said price is not
definitely stated in the documents issued, according to article 6 of
Royal Decree of June 25, 1880.



ART. 9. Alienable crown lands may pass to private ownership by
sale, or by grant to organizations forming colonies, upon special terms
in each case, or by grant to agricultural colonies as an aid thereto, in
the form and manner established by Royal Decree of September 4,

ART. 10. Such sales shall always be for cash and at the current
market price of land in the province, to be determined by the aver-
age price per hectare (2.47 acres) obtained in the sale and adjustment
of lands during the five preceding years in the particular province or
district, without regard to the quality of the land, nor to local cir-
cumstances such as exposure, slope, and location. All surcharges
other than the purchase price ("sobreprecio," such as the expenses of
survey, measurement, etc.) shall be fixed separately.

If, in the five years mentioned in the preceding paragraph, there


have been no sales made or taxable adjustments had in the province or
district the price of such crown lands shall be the average market
price as adopted by the adjoining province or district.

ART. 11. The price per hectare, based upon the aforesaid average,
shall be fixed for the first time by each provincial board within six
months from the publication of this decree, and shall be revised every
five years thereafter, after due consultation* is had, in all cases, with
the municipal tribunal and the registrar of property of the town
where the property is situated. The board shall notify the General
Directorate of Civil Administration of the average price agreed upon.

The General Directorate, assisted by the Inspector of Forests, shall
approve or change the price thereof, and their decision shall be pub-
lished in the Manila Gazette and also at the capital of the province.
(See appendix for last price list.)

ART. 12. No land shall be sold before it is surveyed, its boundaries
marked out, and its extent measured, which action shall be decreed by
the authorities of their own motion or upon petition filed; said sur-
vey, etc., to be made by the employees of the Inspector- General of
Forests or other qualified officials authorized for the purpose by the
General Government, assisted by the captain of the municipal tribunal,
one of his lieutenants, and two leading members of the town appointed
by the municipal captain for said purpose. The certificate of survey
and location of the property shall contain all the data called for by
the mortgage law and its accompanying regulations in order to have it
properly entered in the Register of Property. Furthermore, the sale
must be ordered by the General Directorate of Civil Administration,
and advertisements thereof must be inserted in the official periodicals
of Manila and the capital of the province in which the property is
situated, describing the land and stating the price according to the
ruling market price. These advertisements, translated into the dialect
of the locality, must also be published by proclamation and in edicts
which must be posted on the bulletin boards of tribunals in the towns
in which said property is situated and in neighboring towns for two
months before the da} 7 on which the sale is to be made, if such sale is
to be made in the island of Luzon or the Visayan Islands, and for six
months if made in other islands in the control of the General Govern-

^ART 13. No land shall be surveyed, marked out, or measured hav-
ing in view its sale, unless advertisements thereof have been previ-
ously published for three consecutive days, by means of proclamations
in Spanish and in the local dialect, and the same posted on the bulletin
boards of municipal tribunals having jurisdiction over the land, for the
same number of days.

ART. 14. Such sales may be made at the petition of private parties
or at the instance of the administration. If made at the petition of a


private party, the person or corporation interested therein shall pre-
sent with the petition a record, certified to by the tribunal of the town
in which the property is located, containing the acknowledgment,
survey, and measurement, as provided by articles 12 and 13.

Such record shall be examined by the provincial board, and any
errors it may contain shall be corrected and forwarded, together with
its report thereon, to the General Directorate of Civil Administration,
that the land may be ordered sold if alienable.

If any reasonable doubt exists as to whether the land is alienable or
not. the General Directorate shall, before ordering the sale, take the
necessary steps to have an investigation and settlement of pending
questions before the administration department or before courts of
justice, according to the nature of the case and the proper jurisdiction
of said courts.

After publication is made of the advertisements provided for by
article 12, intending purchasers shall file a petition in writing with the
provincial board within the period of two months, as prescribed in
that article. If the sale is made on the petition of a private party the
petitioner shall not be required to file a new petition in order to be
considered as a bidder for said lands.

When but one petition for a piece of land is filed, after the term
prescribed in the advertisement has expired, the provincial board shall
award the land in question to the petitioner for the price stated, with-
out further proceedings.

If there are two or more applicants for the purchase thereof an
auction shall be held among them, for which purpose the provincial
board shall call them together, after due notice is given them in
advance, and shall award the land to the highest bidder. Every peti-
tioner for the sale of land shall be given a receipt for his petition by
the provincial board. Orders awarding lands, whether any bidding
has been made or not, as the case may be, shall be signed by all the
members of the provincial board present and attached to the order of
sale, which shall be forwarded to the General Directorate of Civil

ART. 15. After the order of sale has been examined by the General
Directorate, and all errors or defects therein corrected, the Gen-
eral Directorate shall approve the award, and if it is shown that
payment therefor has not yet been made, shall order the same to be
made within the nonextendible time of one month. If payment is not,
however, made within one month, the award shall be considered
annulled, with loss to the person to whom the land has been awarded
of all rights arising out of his being a party to the proceedings of the
record. Once the certificate of payment is attached to the record, and
there is no opposition or claim interposed by legal process, title to the
property shall be issued by the General Directorate, but if such opposi-


tion is interposed by a party claiming any right in the land, then only
a mere possessory title shall be issued instead. In this case proper
title deed to the land shall be finally issued at the termination of the
litigation, if the sale is sustained.

Title deeds referred to in the preceding paragraph shall be officially
forwarded to the proper registrar of property for registration and
other entries. Holders shall be notified thereof so that they may take
possession of their title deeds from the registrar's office.

ART. 16. If, before the issuance of the deed of sale, any claim is
interposed, by reason of the survey and land marking, or the adver-
tising, alleging rights to the land, proceedings begun for the sale
thereof shall not be suspended, if the person, corporation, or legal
entity making the claim is not at the time in possession of the prop-
erty or of the profits thereof, but the claimant's right of action before
the courts of justice shall remain. If the claim interposed against the
sale is made by one in actual and positive possession of the property,
total or partial, or of the profits arising from it, upon proof of the
fact of possession being given, the sale proceedings shall be suspended
for the term of three months, within which time any legal action, for
which there is ground, must be begun before courts of justice having
jurisdiction in the case. Such suspension shall continue from the
time action is taken until a final judgment is rendered, affirming or
den} r ing the right of the claimant, or until the litigation is terminated
in some other legal way.

If, within three months thereof no action is taken before ordinary
law courts, the suspension shall be vacated and the sale proceedings
shall be reopened, notwithstanding any action which may be com-
menced later, in accordance with common-law proceedings.

ART. 17. Where a contention arises in the course of sale proceed-
ings as to whether or not a piece of land belongs to the commons of a
town, the General Directorate of Civil Administration shall have
original jurisdiction thereon.

When corporations or private persons interested therein are unwill-
ing to abide by the decision of the General Directorate of Civil Admin-
istration, they may then appeal to the contentious administrative court
or to an ordinary court of justice, according to the jurisdiction exer-
cised by either court within the legal time limits in the first case, and
within the one as fixed by the preceding article in the second.

If the municipal tribunal of the town concerned does not file its
claim before the first month is ended, which is the period marked for
advertising the sale, no claim which it may interpose and maintain
later shall avail against the sale proceedings, but such claim shall be
governed by the general principles of law. Where such a claim is filed
before the expiration of the first month, in the period marked for


advertising, the sale proceedings shall then be suspended until the claim
has been finally decided upon or become barred.

ART. 18. Awards of crown lands to persons who are not Spanish
subjects can only be made upon the following conditions:

First. That the persons to whom they are awarded shall reside in
the Philippines and shall be properly registered.

Second. That if they remove their residence or domicile to some
other country, they shall be required to sell all such property which
they may have accumulated to a resident in the Philippines.

Third. In cases of inheritance, heirs who have no residence in the
Philippines and other legal requirements are required to sell just as
the original owners were.

The acquisition of real estate in the Philippines by foreign associa-
tions, companies, or commercial bodies, whether they are residents in
the islands or not, is absolutely prohibited.



ART. 19. Parties in possession of alienable crown lands which are
under cultivation and who have not obtained nor petitioned for adjust-
ment up to the date of the publication of this decree in the Manila
Gazette may obtain free title deeds to the property by means of t4 p^s-
sessory proceedings " in accordance with the laws of civil procedure
and the mortgage law, provided they have fulfilled one of the follow-
ing conditions:

First. To hold or to have held them under cultivation without any
interruption during the last six years.

Second. To have held them in possession uninterruptedly during
twelve years, having them under cultivation at the time of the " pos-
sessory proceedings" and during the three years preceding thereto.

Third. To have held them in possession openly and without inter-
ruption during thirty or more years, although the land has not been
under cultivation.

ART. 20. Holders who are in actual possession of land included in the
"legua cumunal" (town commons), now under their cultivation or in
their ostensible possession up to the time of publication of the present
decree in the Manila Gazette, may secure a free title deed on the same
conditions as those established for Crown lands in the preceding
article. Beyond these exceptions the provisions of article 2 shall be
followed in other cases.

ART. 21. The nonextendible term of one year is hereby granted for
the purpose of instituting "possessory proceedings," as referred to
in articles 19 and 20 hereof.


At the expiration of said year the right of cultivators and holders
thereof in obtaining a free title deed to the property shall become
extinct, and full title to the land shall revert to the State or to the citi-
zens in common; such holders and cultivators, claimants to title
thereof, or their successors in interest by absolute title, shall only
retain the right of preemption or "tanteo" in the event that the land
is sold within five years following the expiration of said one year.

1 3 4 5 6

Online LibraryPhilippinesSpanish public land laws (English translation) in the Philippine Islands and their history to August 13, 1898 → online text (page 1 of 6)