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MAGALLONA v. ERMITA, G.R.

187167, August 16, 2011

Facts:

In 1961, Congress passed R.A. 3046 demarcating the maritime baselines of the
Philippines as an Archepelagic State pursuant to UNCLOS I of 9158, codifying the
sovereignty of State parties over their territorial sea. Then in 1968, it was amended by
R.A. 5446, correcting some errors in R.A. 3046 reserving the drawing of baselines
around Sabah in north borneo.

In 2009, it was again amended by R.A. 9522, to be compliant with the UNCLOS III of
1984. The requirements complied with are: to shorten one baseline, to optimize the
location of some basepoints and classify KIG and Scarborough Shoal as regime of
islands.

Petitioner now assails the constitutionality of the law for three main reasons:

1. it reduces the Philippine maritime territory under Article 1;

2. it opens the countrys waters to innocent and sea lanes passages hence undermining
our sovereignty and security; and

3. treating KIG and Scarborough as regime of islands would weaken our claim over
those territories.

Issue: Whether R.A. 9522 is constitutional?

Ruling:

1. UNCLOS III has nothing to do with acquisition or loss of territory. it is just a codified
norm that regulates conduct of States. On the other hand, RA 9522 is a baseline law to
mark out basepoints along coasts, serving as geographic starting points to measure. it
merely notices the international community of the scope of our maritime space.

2. If passages is the issue, domestically, the legislature can enact legislation


designating routes within the archipelagic waters to regulate innocent and sea lanes
passages. but in the absence of such, international law norms operate.

the fact that for archipelagic states, their waters are subject to both passages does not
place them in lesser footing vis a vis continental coastal states. Moreover, RIOP is a
customary international law, no modern state can invoke its sovereignty to forbid such
passage.

3. On the KIG issue, RA 9522 merely followed the basepoints mapped by RA 3046 and
in fact, it increased the Phils. total maritime space. Moreover, the itself commits the
Phils. continues claim of sovereignty and jurisdiction over KIG.

If not, it would be a breach to 2 provisions of the UNCLOS III:


Art. 47 (3): drawing of basepoints shall not depart to any appreciable extent from the
general configuration of the archipelago.

Art 47 (2): the length of baselines shall not exceed 100 mm.

KIG and SS are far from our baselines, if we draw to include them, well breach the
rules: that it should follow the natural configuration of the archipelago.

Case Digest: GR No. 187167


2/2/2015

1 Comment

Prof. Magallona, Hontiveros, Prof. Roque and 38 UP College of Law Students

-vs-

Ermita Exec.Sec., Romulo Sec DFA, Andaya Sec DBM, Ventura Administrator
National Mapping & Resource Information Authority and Davide Jr.

-writ of certiorari and prohibition assailing the constitutionality of RA 9522

Facts:

RA 3046 was passed in 1961 which provides among others the demarcation lines of
the baselines of the Philippines as an archipelago. This is in consonance with
UNCLOS I.

RA 5446 amended RA 3046 in terms of typographical errors and included Section


2 in which the government reserved the drawing of baselines in Sabah in North
Borneo.

RA 9522 took effect on March 2009 amending RA 5446. The amendments, which
are in compliance with UNCLOS III in which the Philippines is one of the signatory,
shortening one baseline while optimizing the other and classifying Kalayaan Group
of Island and Scarborough Shoal as Regimes of Island.

Petitioners in their capacity as taxpayer, citizen and legislator assailed the


constitutionality of RA 9522:- it reduces the territory of the Philippines in
violation to the Constitution and it opens the country to maritime passage of
vessels and aircrafts of other states to the detriment of the economy,
sovereignty, national security and of the Constitution as well. They added that the
classification of Regime of Islands would be prejudicial to the lives of the
fishermen.

Issues:

1. WON the petitioners have locus standi to bring the suit; and
2. WON RA 9522 is unconstitutional

Ruling:

Petition is dismissed.

1st Issue:
The SC ruled the suit is not a taxpayer or legislator, but as a citizen suit, since it
is the citizens who will be directly injured and benefitted in affording relief over
the remedy sought.

2nd Issue:
The SC upheld the constitutionality of RA 9522.

First, RA 9522 did not delineate the territory the Philippines but is merely a
statutory tool to demarcate the countrys maritime zone and continental shelf
under UNCLOS III. SC emphasized that UNCLOS III is not a mode of acquiring or
losing a territory as provided under the laws of nations. UNCLOS III is a multi-
lateral treaty that is a result of a long-time negotiation to establish a uniform sea-
use rights over maritime zones (i.e., the territorial waters [12 nautical miles from
the baselines], contiguous zone [24 nautical miles from the baselines], exclusive
economic zone [200 nautical miles from the baselines]), and continental shelves. In
order to measure said distances, it is a must for the state parties to have their
archipelagic doctrines measured in accordance to the treatythe role played by
RA 9522. The contention of the petitioner that RA 9522 resulted to the loss of
15,000 square nautical miles is devoid of merit. The truth is, RA 9522, by
optimizing the location of base points, increased the Philippines total maritime
space of 145,216 square nautical miles.

Second, the classification of KGI and Scarborough Shoal as Regime of Islands is


consistent with the Philippines sovereignty. Had RA 9522 enclosed the islands as
part of the archipelago, the country will be violating UNCLOS III since it
categorically stated that the length of the baseline shall not exceed 125 nautical
miles. So what the legislators did is to carefully analyze the situation: the country,
for decades, had been claiming sovereignty over KGI and Scarborough Shoal on one
hand and on the other hand they had to consider that these are located at non-
appreciable distance from the nearest shoreline of the Philippine archipelago. So,
the classification is in accordance with the Philippines sovereignty and States
responsible observance of its pacta sunt servanda obligation under UNCLOS III.

Third, the new base line introduced by RA 9522 is without prejudice with
delineation of the baselines of the territorial sea around the territory of Sabah,
situated in North Borneo, over which the Republic of the Philippines has acquired
dominion and sovereignty.

And lastly, the UNCLOS III and RA 9522 are not incompatible with the
Constitutions delineation of internal waters. Petitioners contend that RA 9522
transformed the internal waters of the Philippines to archipelagic waters hence
subjecting these waters to the right of innocent and sea lanes passages, exposing
the Philippine internal waters to nuclear and maritime pollution hazards. The Court
emphasized that the Philippines exercises sovereignty over the body of water lying
landward of the baselines, including the air space over it and the submarine areas
underneath, regardless whether internal or archipelagic waters. However,
sovereignty will not bar the Philippines to comply with its obligation in maintaining
freedom of navigation and the generally accepted principles of international law. It
can be either passed by legislator as a municipal law or in the absence thereof, it is
deemed incorporated in the Philippines law since the right of innocent passage is a
customary international law, thus automatically incorporated thereto.

This does not mean that the states are placed in a lesser footing; it just signifies
concession of archipelagic states in exchange for their right to claim all waters
inside the baseline. In fact, the demarcation of the baselines enables the
Philippines to delimit its exclusive economic zone, reserving solely to the Philippines
the exploitation of all living and non-living resources within such zone. Such a
maritime delineation binds the international community since the delineation is in
strict observance of UNCLOS III. If the maritime delineation is contrary to
UNCLOS III, the international community will of course reject it and will refuse to
be bound by it.

The Court expressed that it is within the Congress who has the prerogative to
determine the passing of a law and not the Court. Moreover, such enactment was
necessary in order to comply with the UNCLOS III; otherwise, it shall backfire on
the Philippines for its territory shall be open to seafaring powers to freely enter
and exploit the resources in the waters and submarine areas around our
archipelago and it will weaken the countrys case in any international dispute over
Philippine maritime space.

The enactment of UNCLOS III compliant baselines law for the Philippine
archipelago and adjacent areas, as embodied in RA 9522, allows an internationally-
recognized delimitation of the breadth of the Philippines maritime zones and
continental shelf. RA 9522 is therefore a most vital step on the part of the
Philippines in safeguarding its maritime zones, consistent with the Constitution and
our national interest.