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It is defined as all waters, around between and connecting different islands

belonging to the Philippine Archipelago, irrespective of their width or dimension, are
necessary appurtenances of its land territory, forming an integral part of the
national or inland waters, subject to the exclusive sovereignty of the Philippines. It
is found in the 2nd sentence of Article 1 of the 1987 Constitution.

It emphasizes the unity of the land and waters by defining an archipelago as group
of islands surrounded by waters or a body of waters studded with islands.

To emphasize unity, an imaginary single baseline is drawn around the islands by

joining appropriate points of the outermost islands of the archipelago with straight
lines and all islands and waters enclosed within the baseline form part of its

The main purpose of the archipelagic doctrine is to protect the territorial interests of
an archipelago, that is, the territorial integrity of the archipelago. Without it, there
would be pockets of high seas between some of our islands and islets, thus
foreign vessels would be able to pass through these pockets of seas and would
have no jurisdiction over them. Accordingly, if we follow the old rule of international
law, it is possible that between islands, e.g. Bohol and Siquijor, due to the more
than 24 mile distance between the 2 islands, there may be high seas. Thus, foreign
vessels may just enter anytime at will, posing danger to the security of the State.
However, applying the doctrine, even these bodies of water within the baseline,
regardless of breadth, form part of the archipelago and are thus considered as
internal waters.

Following the Archipelagic Doctrine, the Spratlys Group of Islands is not part of
Philippine archipelago. It is too far to be included within the archipelagic lines
encircling the internal waters of Philippine Archipelago. However, the SGI is part of
the Philippine territory because it was discovered by a Filipino seaman in the name
of ViceAdmiral Cloma who later renounced his claim over it in favor of the Republic
of the Philippines. Subsequently, then Pres. Marcos issued a Presidential Decree
constituting SGI as part of the Philippine territory and sending some of our armed
forces to protect said island and maintain our sovereignty over it.

Moreover, Spratlys group of Islands is considered as part of our National Territory.

Article I of the Constitution provides: The national territory comprises the Philippine
archipelago, x x x, and all other territories over which the Philippines has
sovereignty or jurisdiction, x x x. The Spratlys Group of islands falls under the
second phrase and all other territories over which the Philippines has sovereignty
or jurisdiction. It is part of our national territory because Philippines exercise
sovereignty (through election of public officials) over Spratlys Group of Islands.

A higher court will not entertain direct resort to it unless the redress cannot be
obtained in the appropriate courts.

This is an ordained sequence of recourse to courts vested with concurrent

jurisdiction, beginning from the lowest, on to the next highest, and ultimately to the
highest. This hierarchy is determinative of the venue of appeals, and is likewise
determinative of the proper forum for petitions for extraordinary writs. This is an
established policy necessary to avoid inordinate demands upon the Courts time
and attention which are better devoted to those matters within its exclusive
jurisdiction, and to preclude the further clogging of the Courts docket.

The SC is a court of last resort. It cannot and should not be burdened with the task
of deciding cases in the first instances. Its jurisdiction to issue extraordinary writs
should be exercised only where absolutely necessary or where serious and
important reasons exist.

Petitions for the issuance of extraordinary writs against first level courts should be
filed with the RTC and those against the latter with the CA. A direct invocation of the
SCs original jurisdiction to issue these writs should be allowed only where there are
special and important reasons therefore, clearly and specifically set out in the

The doctrine of hierarchy of courts may be disregarded if warranted by the nature

and importance of the issues raised in the interest of speedy justice and to avoid
future litigations, or in cases of national interest and of serious implications.

Sec. 9[1], BP 129; Sec. 5[1], Art. VIII, Constitution of the Philippines, By hierarchy of
courts is meant that while the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and the
Regional Trial Courts have concurrent original jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari,
prohibition,mandamus, quo warranto and habeas corpus, such occurrence does not
accord litigants unrestrained freedom of choice of the court to which application
therefore maybe directed. The application should be filed with the court of lower
level unless the importance of the issue involved deserves the action of the court of
higher level. (Uy vs. Contreras, 237 SCRA 167)

Roldan purchased a 300-square-meter parcel of land located in Shariff Kabunsuan,

from one Ceres. Transfer Certificate of Title covering the parcel of land was issued in
Roldans name. Roldan had the parcel of land surveyed. In a report, the Geodetic
Engineer found that Vivencio occupied the parcel of land covered by Roldans
certificate of title.

Failing to settle with Vivencio at the barangay level, Roldan filed an action to
recover the possession of the parcel of land with respondent Fifth Sharia District
Court alleging among others that he is a Filipino Muslim

Respondent court took cognizance of the case and caused service of summons on
Vivencio. However, despite service of summons, Vivencio failed to file his answer.
Thus, Roldan moved that he be allowed to present evidence ex parte, which motion
respondent Fifth Sharia District Court granted. In its decision, respondent Fifth
Sharia District Court ruled that Roldan, as registered owner, had the better right to
possess the parcel of land. Thereafter, it issued the notice of writ of execution to

Vivencio filed a petition for relief from judgment with prayer for issuance of writ of
preliminary injunction. He argued that Sharia District Courts may only hear civil
actions and proceedings if both parties are Muslims. Considering that he is a
Christian, Vivencio argued that respondent Fifth Sharia District Court had no
jurisdiction to take cognizance of Roldans action for recovery of possession of a
parcel of land. However, respondent court denied the petition.


Does the Sharia District Court has jusrisdiction over real action where one of the
parties is not a muslim even if it decides the action applying the provisions of the
Civil Code?


The Sharia District Court has NO jurisdiction over real action where one of the
parties is not a Muslim. Jurisdiction over the subject matter is "the power to hear
and determine cases of the general class to which the proceedings in question
belong." This power is conferred by law, which may either be the Constitution or a
statute. Since subject matter jurisdiction is a matter of law, parties cannot choose,
consent to, or agree as to what court or tribunal should decide their disputes. If a
court hears, tries, and decides an action in which it has no jurisdiction, all its
proceedings, including the judgment rendered, are void.

The law conferring the jurisdiction of Sharia District Courts is the Code of the
Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines. Under Article 143 of the Muslim Code,
Sharia District Courts have concurrent original jurisdiction with "existing civil
courts" over real actions not arising from customary contracts wherein the parties
involved are Muslims. However, this concurrent jurisdiction over real actions "is
applicable solely when both parties are Muslims". When one of the parties is not a
Muslim, the action must be filed before the regular courts.
Considering that Vivencio is not a Muslim, respondent Fifth Sharia District Court had
no jurisdiction over Roldans action for recovery of possession of real property. The
proceedings before it are void, regardless of the fact that it applied the provisions of
the Civil Code of the Philippines in resolving the action.

The application of the provisions of the Civil Code of the Philippines by respondent
Fifth Sharia District Court does not validate the proceedings before the court. Under
Article 175 of the Muslim Code, customary contracts are construed in accordance
with Muslim law. Hence, Sharia District Courts apply Muslim law when resolving real
actions arising from customary contracts.

In real actions not arising from contracts customary to Muslims, there is no reason
for Sharia District Courts to apply Muslim law. In such real actions, Sharia District
Courts will necessarily apply the laws of general application, which in this case is
the Civil Code of the Philippines, regardless of the court taking cognizance of the

G.R. No. 188832, April 23, 2014


COURT and ROLDAN E. MALA, represented by his father Hadji Kalam T.
Mala, Respondents.