B-9709, MAY 11, 1940, 19 COMP. GEN. 919

B-9709: May 11, 1940

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INSURED AND REGISTERED MAILS - LIABILITY FOR LOSS OR DAMAGE IN PHILIPPINE ISLANDS THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR PAYMENT BY THE UNITED STATES OF INDEMNITY ON ACCOUNT OF LOSS OR RIFLING OF OR DAMAGE TO A REGISTERED OR INSURED ARTICLE ADDRESSED TO A PERSON IN THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS WHEN SUCH LOSS. OR DAMAGE OCCURS WHILE THE ARTICLE IS IN THE CUSTODY OF THE PHILIPPINE POSTAL ADMINISTRATION FOR TRANSMISSION TO THE ADDRESSEE. REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE ADDRESSEE IS OR IS NOT A MEMBER OF A UNITED STATES MILITARY ORGANIZATION STATIONED IN THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS. 1940: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 18. IT WILL BE APPRECIATED IF YOU WILL RENDER A DECISION AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF PAYING INDEMNITY WITHIN THE LIMIT FIXED BY LAW.

B-9709, MAY 11, 1940, 19 COMP. GEN. 919

INSURED AND REGISTERED MAILS - LIABILITY FOR LOSS OR DAMAGE IN PHILIPPINE ISLANDS THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR PAYMENT BY THE UNITED STATES OF INDEMNITY ON ACCOUNT OF LOSS OR RIFLING OF OR DAMAGE TO A REGISTERED OR INSURED ARTICLE ADDRESSED TO A PERSON IN THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS WHEN SUCH LOSS, RIFLING, OR DAMAGE OCCURS WHILE THE ARTICLE IS IN THE CUSTODY OF THE PHILIPPINE POSTAL ADMINISTRATION FOR TRANSMISSION TO THE ADDRESSEE, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE ADDRESSEE IS OR IS NOT A MEMBER OF A UNITED STATES MILITARY ORGANIZATION STATIONED IN THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, MAY 11, 1940:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 18, 1940, AS FOLLOWS:

QUESTION HAS ARISEN WITH RESPECT TO THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE FOR REGISTERED OR INSURED MATTER ADDRESSED TO PERSONS IN THE MILITARY SERVICE IN THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS.

IT WILL BE APPRECIATED IF YOU WILL RENDER A DECISION AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF PAYING INDEMNITY WITHIN THE LIMIT FIXED BY LAW, CONSIDERING THE REGISTRY OR INSURANCE FEE PAID, ON ACCOUNT OF THE LOSS OR RIFLING OF OR DAMAGE TO A DOMESTIC REGISTERED OR INSURED ARTICLE, ADDRESSED TO A MEMBER OF A UNITED STATES MILITARY ORGANIZATION STATIONED IN THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, WHEN SUCH LOSS, RIFLING, OR DAMAGE OCCURS AFTER THE ARTICLE HAS BEEN ENTRUSTED TO THE PHILIPPINE POSTAL ADMINISTRATION FOR TRANSMISSION TO THE ADDRESSEE. IN THIS CONNECTION YOUR ATTENTION IS SPECIFICALLY INVITED TO THE DECISION OF THE COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY, H-8C, DATED AUGUST 18, 1908.

IT BECAME APPARENT SHORTLY AFTER THE ACQUISITION OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS THAT THEY WERE TO BE GOVERNED BY A SYSTEM OF LAWS IN LARGE MEASURE SEPARATE AND DISTINCT FROM THAT OF THE UNITED STATES. THIS WAS INDICATED NOT ONLY BY THE SO-CALLED SPOONER AMENDMENT AS CONTAINED IN THE ACT OF MARCH 2, 1901, 31 STAT. 910, AND IN VARIOUS EXECUTIVE ORDERS, INSTRUCTIONS, ETC., ISSUED BY THE PRESIDENT SHORTLY AFTER THE ISLANDS WERE ACQUIRED (SEE DISCUSSION IN 29 OP. ATTY. GEN. 380, 383), BUT, ALSO, BY THE ACT OF JULY 1, 1902, 32 STAT. 691, COMMONLY KNOWN AS "THE PHILIPPINE ORGANIC ACT" (S. REP. 362, 62D CONG., 2D SESS., P. 2). IT WAS STIPULATED IN THE FIRST SECTION OF SAID ORGANIC ACT THAT SECTION 1891 OF THE REVISED STATUTES--- WHICH PROVIDES THAT " THE CONSTITUTION AND ALL LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES WHICH ARE NOT LOCALLY INAPPLICABLE SHALL HAVE THE SAME FORCE AND EFFECT WITHIN ALL THE ORGANIZED TERRITORIES * * * AS ELSEWHERE WITHIN THE UNITED STATES"--- SHOULD NOT APPLY TO THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS. SEE, ALSO, SECTION 5 OF THE LATER ACT OF AUGUST 29, 1916, 39 STAT. 547, 48 U.S.C. 1003.

IT SEEMS SUFFICIENTLY CLEAR THAT LAWS RELATING TO THE POSTAL SERVICE WERE INCLUDED IN THIS EXCEPTION. IN THIS CONNECTION ATTENTION IS INVITED TO AN OPINION ADDRESSED TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL ON DECEMBER 2, 1902, 24 OP. ATTY. GEN. 534, WHEREIN THE SOLICITOR GENERAL, AFTER ANALYZING VARIOUS THEN EXISTING PROVISIONS OF LAW RELATING TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, CONCLUDED (P. 540) THAT "THE POSTAL SERVICE IN THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS IS NOT SUBJECT TO THE GENERAL LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES REGULATING THE MAILS UNDER YOUR ADMINISTRATION.' AGAIN, IN AN OPINION OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL UNDER DATE OF MARCH 29, 1912, 29 OP. ATTY. GEN. 380, 384-385, THE PHILIPPINE POSTAL ADMINISTRATION WAS DESCRIBED AS "A WHOLLY AUTONOMOUS SYSTEM, INDEPENDENT OF THE ADMINISTRATION'S CONTROL.' NOTHING HAS BEEN FOUND IN SUBSEQUENT PROVISIONS OF LAW RELATING TO THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS WHICH MAKES NECESSARY OR EVEN WARRANTS ANY MODIFICATION OF THE CONCLUSION THUS REACHED.

BY THE TERMS OF SECTION 1 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 28, 1932, 47 STAT. 338, 39 U.S.C. 381, WHICH AMENDED PRIOR LAWS RELATIVE TO THE REGISTRATION AND INDEMNITY FOR LOSS OR DAMAGE OF REGISTERED MATTER IN THE MAILS, THE POSTMASTER GENERAL WAS AUTHORIZED TO "PROVIDE RULES UNDER WHICH THE SENDERS OR OWNERS OF ANY REGISTERED MATTER SHALL BE INDEMNIFIED FOR LOSS, RIFLING, OR DAMAGE THEREOF IN THE MAILS.' SIMILARLY, BY ACT OF APRIL 24, 1920, 41 STAT. 581, 39 U.S.C. 382, THE POSTMASTER GENERAL WAS GRANTED AUTHORITY, UNDER SUCH RULES AND REGULATIONS AS HE MIGHT PRESCRIBE, TO PAY LIMITED INDEMNITY CLAIMS ON INSURED MAIL. SEE, ALSO, SECTION 8 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 24, 1912, 37 STAT. 558, AS AMENDED, 39 U.S.C. 244, AND THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1929, 45 STAT. 1177, 39 U.S.C. 246 (A).

SINCE THE PHILIPPINE POSTAL SERVICE IS WHOLLY AUTONOMOUS AND SEPARATE FROM THAT OF THE UNITED STATES THERE WOULD APPEAR TO BE NO LEGAL BASIS FOR THE POSTMASTER GENERAL TO EXTEND THE BENEFITS OF ANY SYSTEM OF REGISTRATION OR INSURANCE OF MAILS WHICH HE MIGHT ESTABLISH UNDER AUTHORITY OF THE ABOVE STATUTES SO AS TO COVER LOSSES INCURRED AFTER MAIL MATTER HAD BEEN TURNED OVER TO THE POSTAL AUTHORITIES OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS FOR DELIVERY TO THE ADDRESSEE. IN EFFECT, THAT IS THE HOLDING OF THE DECISION OF AUGUST 18, 1908, REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTER; AND THE LAWS RELATING TO THE POSTAL SERVICE AND TO THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS ENACTED SINCE THAT DECISION WAS RENDERED DO NOT APPEAR TO REQUIRE OR AUTHORIZE A DIFFERENT CONCLUSION IN THAT RESPECT THAN REACHED THEREIN. SECTION 1382, SUBSECTION 6 (B) OF THE POSTAL REGULATIONS, 1932, PROVIDES, AMONG OTHER THINGS, THAT NO INDEMNITY WILL BE PAID "FOR THE INJURY OR LOSS OF ANY REGISTERED MATTER WHICH * * * WAS NOT INJURED OR LOST WHILE IN THE CUSTODY OF THE POSTAL SERVICE.' THE TERM " POSTAL SERVICE" AS USED IN THIS PROVISION CLEARLY REFERS TO THE POSTAL SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES AND DOES NOT INCLUDE A SEPARATE AND DISTINCT SYSTEM SUCH AS THAT OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS. WITH RESPECT TO INSURED MATTER, IT IS PROVIDED IN SECTION 1389, SUBSECTION 2, OF THE POSTAL REGULATIONS, SUPRA, THAT:

EXCEPT AS STATED IN CURRENT POSTAL GUIDE, POSTMASTERS AT THE CENTRAL ACCOUNTING OFFICES OF THE STATES OR SECTIONS IN WHICH INSURED AND COLLECT- ON-DELIVERY ARTICLES ARE MAILED ARE AUTHORIZED TO PAY INDEMNITY CLAIMS ARISING FROM THE LOSS, RIFLING, AND INJURY OF INSURED AND UNREGISTERED COLLECT-ON-DELIVERY ARTICLES MAILED ON AND AFTER JULY 1, 1922, AND EXCHANGED WITHIN AND BETWEEN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES (INCLUDING ALASKA), GUAM, HAWAII, PAGO PAGO, SAMOA, PUERTO RICO, AND THE VIRGIN ISLANDS: * * * WHILE THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS ARE NOT SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED IN THIS SUBSECTION, THE POSTAL GUIDE REFERRED TO THEREIN CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING PROVISION RELATIVE TO LIABILITY IN THE CASE OF INSURED MAIL ADDRESSED TO SAID ISLANDS:

* * * PARCELS MAY BE INSURED BUT NOT SENT C.O.D. TO THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, * * *

THE MAXIMUM INDEMNITY FOR DOMESTIC INSURED MAIL ADDRESSED TO THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS IS $100 PAYABLE BY THE UNITED STATES WHEN THE EVIDENCE SHOWS THE LOSS, RIFLING, OR DAMAGE OCCURRED IN THE POSTAL SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES AS DISTINGUISHED FROM THAT OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS. * * * ( UNITED STATES POSTAL GUIDE, JULY 1939, PAGE 190. SIMILAR PROVISIONS ARE FOUND IN THE POSTAL GUIDE FOR PRIOR YEARS).

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING I HAVE TO ADVISE THAT THERE WOULD APPEAR NO AUTHORITY FOR PAYING INDEMNITY ON ACCOUNT OF LOSS OR RIFLING OF OR DAMAGE TO A REGISTERED OR INSURED ARTICLE ADDRESSED TO A PERSON IN THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS WHEN SUCH LOSS, RIFLING, OR DAMAGE OCCURS WHILE THE ARTICLE IS IN THE CUSTODY OF THE PHILIPPINE POSTAL ADMINISTRATION FOR TRANSMISSION TO THE ADDRESSEE, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE ADDRESSEE IS OR IS NOT A MEMBER OF A UNITED STATES MILITARY ORGANIZATION STATIONED IN THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS.