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THE PHILIPPINES AND THE ARCHIPELAGIC DOCTRINE

Archipelago is defined as a sea or part of a sea studded with islands, often synonymous with island groups, or as a large group of islands in an extensive body of water, such as sea. (De Leon, 1991) In various conferences of the United Nations on the Law of the Sea, the Philippines and other archipelago states proposed that an archipelagic state composed of groups of islands forming a state is a single unit, with the islands and the waters within the baselines as internal waters.By this concept (archipelagic doctrine), an archipelago shall be regarded as a single unit, so that the waters around, between, and connecting the islands of the archipelago, irrespective of their breadth and dimensions, form part of the internal waters of the state, subject to its exclusive sovereignty.

Despite the opposition of maritime powers, the Philippines and four other states (Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Bahamas) got the approval in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea held in Jamaica last December 10, 1982. They were qualified as archipelagic states. The archipelagic doctrine is now incorporated in Chapter IV of the said convention. It legalizes the unity of land, water and people into a single entity

photo courtesy of gmanews.tv The Philippines bolstered the archipelagic principle in defining its territory when it included in Article 1 of the 1987 Constitution the following: : "The national territory comprises the Philippine Archipelago, with all the islands and waters embraced therein xxx"; and "The waters around, between and connecting the islands of the archipelago, regardless of their dimensions, form part of the internal waters of the Philippines." On the strength of these assertions, the Philippines Archipelago is considered as one integrated unit instead of being divided into more than seven thousand islands. The outermost of our archipelago are connected with straight baselines and all waters inside the baselines are considered as internal waters. This makes the large bodies of waters connecting the islands of the archipelago like Mindanao Sea, Sulo Sea and the Sibuyan Sea part of the Philippines as its internal waters, similar to the rivers and lakes found within the islands themselves. The archipelagic principle however is subject to the following limitations: a) respect for the right of the ship and other states to pass through the territorial as well as archipelagic waters b) respect to right of innocent passage c) respect for passage through archipelagic sea lanes subject to the promulgation by local authorities of pertinent rules and regulations.

The Archipelagic Doctrine is a specification in the Filipino Constitution of 1973 defining the boundaries of the country. It stated: "[T]he national territory comprises the Philippine archipelago with all the islands and waters embraced therein and all the other territories belonging to the Philippines..."

This doctrine means, therefore, that the country, with its thousands of islands and many seas, should be considered as a political unit for reasons of history, law, geography, economics, and security. Also, when questions involving territorial conflicts arise, the Philippines uses this doctrine to support its territorial claims. Isa itong pagdurugtong ng mga tuwid na guhit sa pinakalabas na mga pulo ng bansa.

The territorial limits and boundaries of the Philippines were defined by (1) the Treaty of Paris between the United States and Spain on December 10, 1898; (2) the Treaty of Washington between Spain and the United States on November 7, 1900; and (3) the treaty between Great Britain and the United States on July 2, 1930. In the Treaty of Paris, Spain transferred its ownership of the Philippines to the United States for $20,000,000, and for the first time the boundaries of the archipelago were then defined. In the Treaty of November 7, 1900, the United States paid Spain another $100,000 to acquire possession of some small islands in the Sulu archipelagoCagayan, Sibutu, and the smaller islands around these. These areas were then added to Philippine territory. Finally, on July 2, 1930, another group of islands were ceded to the Philippine archipelago. These were the Mangsee and Turtle Islands, which had previously been claimed by both Great Britain and the United States. By the Philippine Constitution of 1973 and by the ratified Constitution of 1987, the Philippines adhered to the Archipelagic Doctrine in defining the boundaries of the country. Article 1, Section 1, of the 1973 Philippine Constitution, provided that the national territory comprises the Philippine archipelago with all the islands and waters embraced therein and all the other territories belonging to the Philippines by historic right or legal title, including the territorial sea, the air space, the subsoil, the seabed, the insular shelves, and the other submarine areas over which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction. The same provision of the Philippine Constitution added: The waters around, between, and connecting the islands of the archipelago, irrespective of their breadth and dimensions, form part of the internal waters of the Philippines. Article 1 of the ratified Constitution of 1987 has, more of less, the same provisions. The Archipelago Doctrine on territorial limits of countries further states that the baselines from which the territorial sea of the archipelago is to be determined consist

of the straight lines connection the outermost portions of the islands. Waters within the baselines are Philippine internal waters and waters outside the baselines but within the extent of the international treaty limits, comprise the countrys territorial sea. This doctrine means, therefore, that our country, with its thousands of islands and many seas, should be considered as a political unit for reasons of history, law, geography, economics, and security. Also, when questions involving territorial conflicts arise, the Philippines has this doctrine to support its claims. - See more at: http://www.philippinealmanac.com/history/philippine-archipelagodoctrine-18579.html#sthash.Nzhr86DY.dpuf