Mariano Mangaron and his claim against the Bishop of Cebu

CEBUPEDIA - Clarence Paul Oaminal (The Freeman) - March 13, 2017 - 12:00am

Mariano Mangaron of Cebu claimed to be the rightful possessor of a lot also claimed to be owned by the Roman Catholic Church. The questioned lot is where the Ermita Church in Cebu City was erected. His parents and brothers were in possession of the lot where the Ermita Church, Cebu City was erected up to 1887.

In 1887 the relatives of Mariano Mangaron vacated the lot by virtue of an order from the Municipality of Cebu. The lot was declared by the municipality as within the zone of materials fuertes (fire zone). After the relatives of Mangaron vacated, the parish priest of Ermita Church fenced the lot and cleaned it without any objection from anyone.

Then in 1898 Mariano Mangaron entered the lot in question and built there a nipa house without the consent of the parish priest. The Court of First Instance of Cebu ordered Mangaron to vacate upon the complaint of the Bishop of Cebu on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church. It was in 1898 that the Cebuano revolt against Spain erupted through the Battle of Tres de Abril, at the start the Cebuano KKK was winning but eventually lost when the reinforcements from other regions came to help the beleaguered Governor General Montero, the defender of the Fort San Pedro.

However the Americans came to join the battle against Spain and signed the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898, signaling our turnover to America from Spain. The Americans arrived in Cebu on January 1899.

The defense of Mangaron was that he owned the lot by inheritance. He argued that when he entered the lot on October 1898 there was no priest in Ermita who could take care of the church and the lot in question as the American troops occupied the parish house. During the trial, other witnesses also said it was the Filipino rebels that occupied the lot vacated by the Spanish Friars.

The legal controversy went up to the Supreme Court after Mangaron lost his case in the lower court. The Supreme Court on June 1, 1906 affirmed the decision of the Court of First Instance of Cebu and decided that the presumption of title which exist in favor of the lawful possessor which was the Roman Catholic Church who had been in quiet and peaceful possession of the lot for twenty years, more or less, at the time he was wrongfully dispossessed by Mariano Mangaron.

Mariano Mangaron was represented by the American Lawyer, L. D. Hargis who came to the Philippines and was admitted to the Philippine Bar on August 4, 1899. He was a delegate of the Democratic National Convention to the United States. Americans in the Philippines participated in American politics though they were based in the Philippines to practice law or engaged in other professions. Hargis was a Democrat Delegate in 1920, 1932, 1936 and 1940. Other Americans based in the Philippines who were delegates were: C.F. Sharp, James J. Rafferty, and R.I. Gililand.

The Bishop of Cebu was represented by the American-dominated law firm of Hartigan, Marple, Solignac, and Gutierrez. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court at that time was Cayetano Arellano, his statue is erected in front of Palace of Justice, Capitol Compound, Cebu City.



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