Items of Interest

The Bureau of Insular Affairs of the War Department has received a copy of an enactment of the Philippine Commission providing for the administration and temporary leasing and sale of the land commonly known as the Friar Lands, for the purchase of which the government of the Philippine Islands recently has contracted. It provides for surveys, and permits the present occupants of any such lands either to buy or to lease them, any leases to be for not more than three years and at a reasonable rental. Those wishing to purchase may do so at the actual cost to the Government, and will be allowed ten years in which to pay for the same in equal annual instalments, with interest on deferred payments at the rate of four per cent. The act further provides that all irrigation, common to all properties, shall remain under the control of the government of the islands. All money derived from the leasing and sale of these lands is to constitute a trust fund for the payment of principal and interest of the bonds issued by the Philippines for the purpose of raising money to pay the purchase price of these Friar Lands.

The Navy Department has been informed that a contract has been made with the Cuban Government to raise the wreck of the battleship Maine, which has lain in the mud of the harbor of Havana since the explosion on the night of February 15, 1898. The communication, which asks what ownership, if any, the United States claims, has been referred to the Judge Advocate General of the Navy for consideration. The Cuban Government, it is understood, makes no claim of ownership in the wreck, and is governed in its action simply by a desire to improve the navigation of the harbor.

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