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Archipelagic Doctrine

Prof. Merlin Magalona, et al., vs. Hon. Eduardo Ermita in his capacityas Executive Secretary, et al.,
In March 2009, R.A. 9522 was enacted by the Congress to comply with the terms of the United Nations Convention on
the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), which the Philippines ratified on February 27, 1984.
Professor Merlin Magallona et al questioned the validity of RA 9522 as they contend, among others, that the law
decreased the national territory of the Philippines. Some of their particular arguments are as follows:

1. RA 9522 reduces Philippine maritime territory, and logically, the reach of the Philippine state’s sovereign power, in
violation of Article 1 of the 1987 Constitution, embodying the terms of the Treaty of Paris and ancillary treaties.
2. RA 9522 opens the country’s waters landward of the baselines to maritime passage by all vessels and aircrafts,
undermining Philippine sovereignty and national security, contravening the country’s nuclear-free policy, and
damaging marine resources, in violation of relevant constitutional provisions.
3. RA 9522’s treatmentof the KIG as “regime of islands” not only results in the loss of a large maritime area but also
prejudices the livelihood of subsistence fishermen.

Hence, petitioners files action for the writs of certiorari and prohibition assails the constitutionality of Republic Act No.
95221 (RA 9522) adjusting the country’s archipelagic baselines and classifying the baseline regime of nearby territories.

Whether or not RA 9522, the amendatory Philippine Baseline Law is unconstitutional.

The provision of Art I 198 Constitution clearly affirms the archipelagic doctrine, which we connect the outermost points
of our archipelago with straight baselines and consider all the waters enclosed thereby as internal waters. RA 9522, as
a Statutory Tool to Demarcate the Country’s Maritime Zones and Continental Shelf Under UNCLOS III, gave nothing
less than an explicit definition in congruent with the archipelagic doctrine.
No. The Court finds R.A. 9522 constitutional. It is a Statutory Tool to Demarcate the Country’s Maritime Zones and
Continental Shelf Under UNCLOS III, not to Delineate Philippine Territory. It is a vital step in safeguarding the country’s
maritime zones. It also allows an internationally-recognized delimitation of the breadth of the Philippine’s maritime
zones and continental shelf.
Additionally, The Court finds that the conversion of internal waters into archipelagic waters will not risk the Philippines
as affirmed in the Article 49 of the UNCLOS III, an archipelagic State has sovereign power that extends to the waters
enclosed by the archipelagic baselines, regardless of their depth or distance from the coast. It is further stated that the
regime of archipelagic sea lanes passage will not affect the status of its archipelagic waters or the exercise of
sovereignty over waters and air space, bed and subsoil and the resources therein.

The Court further stressed that the baseline laws are mere mechanisms for the UNCLOS III to precisely describe the
delimitations. It serves as a notice to the international family of states and it is in no way affecting or producing any
effect like enlargement or diminution of territories.