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MAGALONA vs.

ERMITA GR 187617 August 16, 2011

FACTS:

In 1958, the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) framed the Convention on the
Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone (UNCLOS I) benefitting Archipelagic States like the Philippines.
The Philippines passed RA 3046 in 1961 compliant to UNCLOS I provisions delineating our territorial seas
where we have sovereignty, including our claims on Scarborough Shoal (SS) and the Kalayaan Group of
Islands (KIG).
RA 5446 was then passed by Congress in 1968, correcting typographical errors in RA 3046 and reserved
drawing of baselines around Sabah.
Much later, RA 9522 was enacted in 2009 amending RA 3046 to be compliant with UNCLOS III which
Congress has ratified way back 1984.

ISSUES:

WON petitioners have legal standing/ locus standi;


WON the writs of certiorari and prohibition are the proper remedies to assail the constitutionality of RA
9522; and
WON RA 9522 is unconstitutional.

HELD:

Yes. Petitioners have legal standing as citizens with constitutionally sufficient interest in the merits of
the case which happens to raise issues of national significance needing urgent resolution.
Yes. By tradition, when the SC exercises its constitutional power of judicial review, it has viewed the
writs of certiorari and prohibition as proper remedial vehicles to test the constitutionality of statutes.

No. RA 9522 is not unconstitutional based on the following:

o RA 9522 seeks to demarcate only the maritime zones and not that of the Philippine territory.
UNCLOS III has nothing to do with the acquisition (or loss) of territory. It is a multilateral treaty
which regulates sea-use rights over maritime zones (i.e. territorial waters 12 nautical miles
(nm) from baselines (BL); contiguous zone 24 nm from BL; and exclusive economic zones (EEZ)
200 nm from BL).
RA 9522 is a constructive notice to the world of the extent of maritime space and
submarine areas within which as archipelagic State may exercise treaty-based rights like
sovereignty over territorial waters; jurisdiction to enforce laws in the contiguous zone,
and exploit resources within the EEZ.
Traditional international law typology says states can only acquire territory thru
occupation, accretion, cession, and prescription; not by executing multilateral treaties.

o RA 9522 is not inconsistent with our claim over SS and KIG and that it results in a loss of 15,000
nm of territorial waters.
Configuration of baselines drawn in 3046 is the same as in 9522 except for 9 modified
basepoints to comply with the maximum length of baselines prescribed by UNCLOS III.
The optimized basepoints and baselines resulted in an increase of the countrys total
marine space from 440,994 to 586,210 nm.
Whether under 3046 or 9522, SS and KIG lie outside baselines since they are located at a
distance from our shorelines. To draw baselines around them would be violative of
UNCLOS III provisions since we will be delving away from the general configuration of
the archipelago.
Section 2 of 9522 even explicitly states that the country will still exercise jurisdiction and
sovereignty over SS and KIG. In the Congress deliberations, Sen. MDS even refereed to
these as contested islands outside our configuration.

o Even if 9522 did not textualize our claim on Sabah, it did not repeal 5446, which keeps the door
open for us drawing the baselines around Sabah.
RA 9522 and UNCLOS III is not incompatible with the delineation of internal waters as in
Art. II of the Constitution. The right of innocent passage is already a customary practice
of international law, and it cannot be forbidden by the Philippines or we risk retaliatory
measures from the international community.
The benefit of RA 9522 is that it sends a constructive notice to the world of the extent of
our maritime zones. The international powers cannot enter freely enter and exploit
resources from our surrounding waters and submarine areas.
RA 9522 also strengthens our countrys case in any international dispute over our
maritime waters and space.