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CASE DIGEST OF MAGALLONA VS ERMITA

FACTS OF THE CASE:
The antecedent facts of this case emered !"on the "assin of Re"!#$ic Act %&'( in )*()+ The $a,-s
"!r"ose is
to demarcate the maritime #ase$ines of the .hi$i""ines as it ,as deemed to #e an archi"e$ao+ RA %&'( stood!ncha$$ened
!nti$ /&&*0 ,hen Conress amended it and "assed RA *1//+ This amendin $a, shortened one#ase$ine and determined
ne, #ase "oints of the archi"e$ao+ Moreso0 it has identified the 2a$a3aan Is$andGro!" and the Scar#oro!h Shoa$0 as
4reimes of is$ands40 eneratin their o,n maritime 5ones+The "etitioners fi$ed a case assai$in the constit!tiona$it3 of RA
*1//+ To their o"inion0 the $a, has effecti6e$3red!ced the maritime territor3 of the co!ntr3+ 7ith this0 Artic$e I of the )*89
Constit!tion ,i$$ #e 6io$ated+ The"etitioners a$so ,orried that that #eca!se of the s!ested chanes in the maritime
#ase$ines ,i$$ a$$o, for
forein aircrafts and 6esse$s to tra6erse the .hi$i""ine territor3 free$3+ In effect0 it ste"s on the state-s
so6ereint3 and nationa$ sec!rit3+Mean,hi$e0 the Conress insisted that in no ,a3 ,i$$ the amendments affect an3 "ertinent
"o,er of the state+ Ita$so deferred to aree that the $a, im"$ied$3 re$in:!ishes the .hi$i""ines c$aims o6er Sa#ah+ Last$30 the3
ha6e:!estioned the normati6e force of the notion that a$$ the ,aters ,ithin the rectan!$ar #o!ndaries in the Treat3of .aris+
No,0 #eca!se this treat3 sti$$ has !ndetermined contro6ersies0 the Conress #e$ie6es that in the"ers"ecti6e of internationa$
$a,0 it did not see an3 #indin o#$iation to honor it+ Th!s0 this case of "ra3er for,rits of certiorari and "rohi#ition is fi$ed
#efore the co!rt0 assai$in the constit!tiona$it3 of RA *1//+
T
HE CO;RT-S R;LING:

The Co!rt dismissed the case+ It !"he$d the constit!tiona$it3 of the $a, and made it c$ear that it has mere$3
demarcated the co!ntr3-s maritime 5ones and continenta$ she$6es in accordance to ;NCLOS III+
Second$30 the
Co!rt fo!nd that the frame,or< of the reime of is$ands s!ested #3 the $a, is not inconr!ent ,ith the
.hi$i""ines- en=o3ment of terri
toria$ so6ereint3 o6er the areas of 2a$a3aan Gro!" of Is$ands and theScar#oro!h+ Third0 the co!rt reiterated that the
c$aims o6er Sa#ah remained e6en ,ith the ado"tion of theamendments+F!rther0 the Co!rt im"ortant$3 stressed that the
#ase$ine $a,s are mere mechanisms for the ;NCLOS III to"recise$3 descri#e the de$imitations+ It ser6es as a notice to the
internationa$ fami$3 of states and it is in no ,a3affectin or "rod!cin an3 effect $i<e en$arement or dimin!tion of
territories+7ith reard to th
e "etitioners- assertion that RA *1// has con6erted the interna$ ,aters into archi"e$aic
,aters0 the Co!rt did not a""ear to #e "ers!aded+ Instead0 the Co!rt s!ested that the "o$itica$ #ranches of Go6ernment
can "ass domestic $a,s that ,i$$ aid in the com"etent sec!rit3 meas!res and "o$icies that ,i$$re!$ate innocent "assae+
Since the Co!rt em"hasi5ed innocent "assae as a riht #ased on c!stomar3 $a,0 ita$so #e$ie6es that no state can 6a$id$3
in6o<e so6ereint3 to den3 a riht ac<no,$eded #3 modern states+In the case of archi"e$aic states s!ch as o!rs0
;NCLOS III re:!ired the im"osition of innocent "assae as aconcession in $ie! of their riht to c$aim the entire ,aters
$and,ard #ase$ine+ It a$so made it "ossi#$e forarchi"e$aic states to #e reconi5ed as a cohesi6e entit3 !nder the ;NCLOS
Ruling in the case of MAGALONA VS. ERMITA
Ruling in the case of MAGALONA VS. ERMITA
1. UNCLOS III has nothing to do with the acquisition (or loss) of territory. It is a
multilateral treaty regulating among others sea!use rights o"er maritime #ones and
continental shel"es that UNCLOS III delimits.UNCLOS III was the culmination of
decades!long negotiations among United Nations mem$ers to codify norms regulating
the conduct of States in the world%s oceans and su$marine areas recogni#ing coastal and
archi&elagic States% graduated authority o"er a limited s&an of waters and su$marine
lands along their coasts.
On the other hand $aselines laws such as '( )*++ are enacted $y UNCLOS III States
&arties to mar,!out s&ecific $ase&oints along their coasts from which $aselines are
drawn either straight or contoured to ser"e as geogra&hic starting &oints to measure
the $readth of the maritime #ones and continental shelf
+. No. Ne"ertheless '.(. )*++ wea,ens our otherwise strongterritorial claim o"er the
-I. when it classified it under the /regimeof islands%. 0his constitutes a gra"e a$use of
discretion amounting toan e1cess or lac, of 2urisdiction on the &art of the Legislati"e
and31ecuti"e 4e&artments.)1.
5orse '.(. )*++ altogether a$andons our territorialclaim o"er Sa$ah which is $ased
on strong historical grounds. 0hisfurther constitutes a gra"e a$use on the &art of the
Legislati"e and31ecuti"e 4e&artments
6. &etitioners% argument for the in"alidity of '( )*++ for its failure to te1tuali#e the
7hili&&ines% claim o"er Sa$ah in North 8orneo is also untena$le. Section + of '( *99:
which '( )*++ did not re&eal ,ee&s o&en the door for drawing the $aselines of Sa$ah;
Section 2. The definition of the baselines of the territorial sea of the Philippine
Archipelago as provided in this Act is without prejudice to the delineation of the
baselines of the territorial sea around the territory of Sabah, situated in North Borneo,
over which the epublic of the Philippines has ac!uired do"inion and sovereignty.
#$"phasis supplied%
9. 5hether referred to as 7hili&&ine <internal waters= under (rticle I of the Constitution
6)
or as <archi&elagic
waters= under UNCLOS III ((rticle 9) >1?) the 7hili&&ines e1ercises so"ereignty o"er the $ody of water
lying landward of the $aselines including the air s&ace o"er it and the su$marine areas underneath.
UNCLOS III affirms this;
(rticle 9). &egal status of archipelagic waters, of the air space over archipelagic waters and of
their bed and subsoil. @
1. 0he sovereignty of an archipelagic State eten!s to the "aters enclose! #y the archipelagic
#aselines drawn in accordance with article 9A descri$ed as archi&elagic waters regardless of their de&th
or distance from the coast.
+. This sovereignty eten!s to the air space over the archipelagic "aters$ as "ell as to their
#e! an! su#soil$ an! the resources containe! therein.
1 1 1 1
9. 0he regime of archi&elagic sea lanes &assage esta$lished in this 7art shall not in other
respects affect the status of the archipelagic "aters$ including the sea lanes or the eercise #y
the archipelagic State of its sovereignty over such "aters an! their air space$ #e! an!
su#soil$ an! the resources containe! therein. (3m&hasis su&&lied)
0he fact of so"ereignty howe"er does not &reclude the o&eration of munici&al and international law
norms su$2ecting the territorial sea or archi&elagic waters to necessary if not marginal $urdens in the
interest of maintaining unim&eded e1&editious international na"igation consistent with the
international law &rinci&le of freedom of na"igation. 0hus domestically the &olitical $ranches of the
7hili&&ine go"ernment in the com&etent discharge of their constitutional &owers may &ass legislation
designating routes within the archi&elagic waters to regulate innocent and sea lanes &assage