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Why Filipinos Do Not Own the Philippines, their Country, Fully Yet

Updated on June 28, 2016

Map of the Philippines

Filipinos own the Philippines but not fully yet in practice

Filipinos own the Philippines in theory but not fully yet in practice. One reason is that the Vatican has an empire in Philippine territory. Certificates of land ownership awarded by the state of Spain are still being recognized.

Let us clarify, first about territory. The Philippines is composed of 1,700 islands. It is not only the land mass but also the waters extending to 200 nautical miles from the land mass. The land area is 299,681 square kilometers.

“Territory – It includes not only the land over which the jurisdiction of the state extends, but also the rivers and lakes therein, a certain area of the sea which abuts upon the coasts and the air space above it. Thus, the domain of the state may be described as terrestrial, fluvial, maritime and aerial” (De Leon. H. S. Textbook on the Philippine Constitution. 1999 Edition: 6).

This territory is owned by the Filipinos, the dead, the living and the future generations. This ownership is exercised through their government.

The government is the agency through which the will of the state is formulated, expressed and carried out.

We adhere to the social contract theory in the organization of the state of the Philippines. A state is “formed by deliberate and voluntary compact among the people to form a society and organize government for their common good” (Same source as above).

Ownership of a territory was demonstrated by Spain as colonizer of the Philippines. Spain claimed ownership of the Philippines. This claim is debatable. However, in practice ownership is exercised by possession and control. Spain had the power to control the native Filipinos.

However, when Filipino revolutionaries had liberated the Philippines in the revolution of 1896-98 from Spain, Filipinos assumed ownership of the Philippines.

Lack of understanding

There are a lot of Filipino citizens and officials who do not understand this ownership. It should be clear from the fact that a government official signs the certificate of ownership awarded to a citizen. A land title may bear the name and signature of the director of the Bureau of Lands and the Secretary of Department of Environment and Natural Resources. They are the instruments of the government of the people. The land title recognizes the possession and control over a piece of land by a citizen so given a land title.

When President Aguinaldo declared the independence of the Philippine republic at Kawit, Cavite on June 12,1898, the revolutionary government had taken possession and control over the Philippines. These were formalized upon the approval of the Philippine constitution hammered out in the constitutional convention held in Barasoain church in Malolos, Bulacan.

That means the state of Spain no longer had possession and control over the Philippines. That also means that the Catholic church in the Philippines had no possession and control over the Philippines.

In theory all pieces of land awarded to any Spanish-Filipino revert to the state of the Republic of the Philippines (RP). We will make distinctions as follows: Spanish-Filipinos as those over whom the state of Spain had control.; American-Filipinos as those over whom the United States had control; Filipinos as those over whom the Republic of the Philippines has control.

When RP gained independence from USA on July 4,1946, all territories reverted to RP.

Continuity of certificate of ownership

We will recognize or approve of the concept of continuity of ownership if the same were awarded by the same government, or when the same government does not abrogate that certificate of ownership.

That is, the certificate of ownership awarded by Spain to a Filipino is not recognized by the Republic of the Philippines. The reason is that Spain is another state whose authority had been abrogated by RP. Likewise, the certificate of ownership awarded by USA to a Filipino is not recognized by the Republic of the Philippines. The reason is that USA is another state whose authority no longer holds over the Philippines.(Neocolonialism is another matter).

The continuity of ownership from the state of Spain to RP had been abrogated by the Philippine revolution. The continuity of ownership from USA had been cut when RP gained independence from USA. The continuity of ownership is recognized and approved if awarded under the RP after July 4,1946, subsequently under the Marcos constitution of 1973 and subsequently under the 1987 constitution. The reason is that it is awarded by the same government of the Republic of the Philippines.

From the concepts of state and continuity of ownership all haciendas awarded by Spain to favored subalterns revert to the Republic of the Philippines under the 1987 constitution. All lands awarded by Spain to the Catholic church revert to the Republic of the Philippines under the 1987 constitution.

Therefore, the pieces of land now being possessed and controlled by the Catholic church are illegally being possessed and controlled by the Catholic church.These constitute a Vatican empire in the Philippines. The provision that says that foreign nationals or corporations are not allowed to have landholdings in the Philippines abrogates the landholdings of this church. The reason is that the Catholic church is a foreign corporation.

Therefore, the haciendas so awarded by Spain are illegally possessed and controlled by hacienderos (feudal lords).

These are the premises of true land reform.

Expropriation without pay

For purposes of social justice, some parts of these haciendas should be left with the heirs as recognized under Spanish law but now certified as such by the Republic of the Philippines. That part of land that can sustain a family which cultivates the soil should be left with the same family. Other parts of the land revert to the state of the Philippines without pay.

That is why those parts of haciendas should be expropriated without paying the supposed heirs under the state of Spain. Such portion of the former hacienda should be redistributed to Filipinos who are willing to cultivate the soil.

That is why the pieces of land awarded to the Catholic church by the state of Spain should be expropriated without paying the Catholic church.

We will not adopt the ways of China that forcibly expropriated land from feudal lords.

The state of China owns all land. A citizen can lease a portion to cultivate. The Philippines as a state owns all territory. It only grants titles for private individuals to possess and control any piece of territory on certain conditions.

In the Philippines private ownership of land is not absolute.

The break up of feudalism in Japan is largely responsible for the resurgence of Japan. A lot of capital locked up in pieces of land was liberated and invested in industries. Industries create jobs and raise the standard of living.

Blindness or fear?

Filipino officials assert claim over the Spratleys in the Philippine west sea (China sea according to China). They have filed the claim in an international body. We give them full support. The Spratleys are being claimed by the Philippines, China, and Vietnam.

However, officials do not assert possession and control over landholdings being held illegally by the Catholic church. These landholdings dot every province, about 58 of them, of the country where you find a Catholic cathedral or a big Catholic church. There is a lot of them in Manila.

A presidential proclamation will do. Such proclamation serves only as notice of policy. There is a similar precedent. The Americans granted independence to the Philippines on July 4,1946. Gen. Aguinaldo proclaimed Philippine independence on June 12,1898. In 1960s Pres. Diosdado Macapagal declared June 12,1898 the Philippine independence day. There was no objection from the USA. Filipinos welcomed it.

We have strong legal grounds. There is a constitutional provision that no foreign individual or corporation will have a landholding in the Philippines. The Catholic church has no legal ground to contest the proclamation. The Vatican that owns the Catholic church corporation in the Philippines, considered as both center of the Catholic church and a state unto itself, has no jurisdiction over the Philippines. There is no treaty that allows the Vatican to have landholdings in the Philippines.

Filipino officials are blind. They may also be afraid of the wrath of god visited upon them if they touched what the Catholic church claims for itself. More likely, they are afraid of the Catholic vote. The Catholic church endorses candidates who favor, and censures those who go against, the wishes of this church.


The ruling class is betraying the Filipino nation. It is supine to one of the arms that conquered the Philippines. Spain conquered the Philippines with the sword in one arm and the cross on the other. The arm that held the sword had been cut away, as it were. The arm that holds the cross is still very much in tact.


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