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Magalona vs Ermita

Archipelagic Doctrine
G.R. No. 187167


Prof. Merlin Magalona, et al., Petitioners,

Hon. Eduardo Ermita in his capacityas Executive Secretary, et al., Respondents.

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:

RA 9522 reduces Philippine maritime territory, and logically, the reach of the Philippine states sovereign power, in
violation of Article 1 of the 1987 Constitution, embodying the terms of the Treaty of Paris and ancillary treaties.


RA 9522 opens the countrys waters landward of the baselines to maritime passage by all vessels and aircrafts,
undermining Philippine sovereignty and national security, contravening the countrys nuclear-free policy, and damaging
marine resources, in violation of relevant constitutional provisions.


RA 9522s 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 countrys 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 Countrys 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 Countrys Maritime Zones and
Continental Shelf Under UNCLOS III, not to Delineate Philippine Territory. It is a vital step in safeguarding the countrys
maritime zones. It also allows an internationally-recognized delimitation of the breadth of the Philippines 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.