Archive for August, 2011


CASE 2011-181: METROPOLITAN BANK and TRUST COMPANY, substituted by MERIDIAN (SPV-AMCI) CORPORATION VS. INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE BANK (G.R. NO. 176008); CHUAYUCO STEEL MANUFACTURING VS. INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE BANK (now UNION BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES) (G.R. NO. 176131) (PERALTA, J., 10 AUGUST 2011) SUBJECTS: ACTION PAULIANA; CERTIORARI; FORUM SHOPPING. (BRIEF TITLE: METROBANK VS. IEB)

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Republic of thePhilippines

Supreme Court

Manila

 

 

THIRD DIVISION

 

METROPOLITAN BANK and TRUST COMPANY, substituted by MERIDIAN (SPV-AMCI) CORPORATION,

Petitioner,

 

 

- versus -

 

 

INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE BANK,

Respondent.

x——————————————–x

CHUAYUCO STEEL MANUFACTURING,

Petitioner,

 

 

 

- versus -

 

 

 

INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE BANK (now UNION BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES),

Respondent.

G.R. No. 176008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G.R. No. 176131

 

Present:

CARPIO,* J.,

VELASCO, JR., J., Chairperson,

BRION,**

PERALTA, and

SERENO,*** JJ.

 

Promulgated:

 

August 10, 2011

x—————————————————————————————–x

 

 

D E C I S I O N

 

 

PERALTA, J.:

 

 

Before the Court are two consolidated petitions for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, both of which are seeking the reversal and setting aside of the Decision1 and Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated May 5, 2006 and December 22, 2006, respectively, in CA-G.R. SP No. 00549-MIN which annulled and set aside the Orders dated September 6, 2004 and February 14, 2005, the Resolution dated March 15, 2005 and the Joint Resolution dated June 8, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Misamis Oriental, Branch 17 in Civil Case Nos. 2004-197 and 2004-200.

 

The pertinent factual and procedural antecedents of the case are as follows:

 

Sacramento Steel Corporation (SSC) is a business entity engaged in manufacturing and producing steel and steel products, such as cold rolled coils and galvanized sheets, in its own steel manufacturing plant located at Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.

 

For the purpose of increasing its capital, SSC entered into a Credit Agreement with herein respondent International Exchange Bank (IEB) on September 10, 2001 wherein the latter granted the former an omnibus credit line in the amount of P60,000,000.00, a loan of P20,000,000.00 and a subsequent credit line with a limit of P100,000,000.00.

As security for its loan obligations, SSC executed five separate deeds of chattel mortgage constituted over various equipment found in its steel manufacturing plant. The deeds of mortgage were dated September 17, 2001, February 26, 2003, April 16, 2003, May 25, 2004 and June 7, 2004.

 

Subsequently, SSC defaulted in the payment of its obligations. IEB’s demand for payment went unheeded. On July 7, 2004, the IEB filed with the RTC of Misamis Oriental an action for injunction for the purpose of enjoining SSC from taking out the mortgaged equipment from its premises. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 2004-197. Thereafter, IEB filed a Supplemental Complaint praying for the issuance of a writ of replevin or, in the alternative, for the payment of SSC’s outstanding obligations and attorney’s fees.3

 

On the other hand, on July 18, 2004, SSC filed with the same RTC of Misamis Oriental a Complaint for annulment of mortgage and specific performance for the purpose of compelling the IEB to restructure SSC’s outstanding obligations. SSC also prayed for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and writ of preliminary injunction to prevent IEB from taking any steps to dispossess SSC of any equipment in its steel manufacturing plant as well as to restrain it from foreclosing the mortgage on the said equipment.4 The RTC issued a TRO. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 2004-200 and was subsequently consolidated with Civil Case No. 2004-197.

 

On July 23, 2004, the RTC issued an Order5 granting IEB’s application for the issuance of a writ of replevin. However, upon agreement of the parties, the implementation of the said writ was held in abeyance pending the trial court’s resolution of the other incidents in the said case.6 The RTC also directed that there shall be “no commercial operation without court approval.7

 

On August 26, 2004, the IEB filed a petition for extrajudicial foreclosure of chattel mortgage.

 

SSC opposed IEB’s petition and prayed for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction.

 

On September 6, 2004, the RTC issued an Order disposing as follows:

 

WHEREFORE, let a Writ of preliminary injunction be issued restraining defendant iBank [IEB], the Sheriff, his agents and other person/s acting in their behalf as agents – privies or representative[s] in whatever capacity, from conducting foreclosure, whether judicial or extrajudicial, of any properties subject of the controversy and are further directed not to take any steps that will, in effect, dispossess plaintiff [SSC] of any of its machineries and equipment in its steel manufacturing plant pending determination of the case. Let a bond (cash or surety) of Five Hundred Thousand (P500,000.00) Pesos be posted by the plaintiff Sacramento Steel Corporation as required by law.

 

SO ORDERED.8

 

 

Meanwhile, on August 30, 2004, SSC entered into a Capacity Lease Agreement with herein petitioner Chuayuco Steel Manufacturing Corporation (CSMC) which allowed the latter to lease and operate the former’s cold rolling mill and galvanizing plant for a period of five years.

 

On October 21, 2004, herein petitioner Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company (Metrobank) filed a motion for intervention contending that it has legal interest in the properties subject of the litigation between IEB and SSC because it is a creditor of SSC and that the mortgage contracts between IEB and SSC were entered into to defraud the latter’s creditors.9 Metrobank prayed for the rescission of the chattel mortgages executed by SSC in favor of IEB.

 

On January 21, 2005, CSMC filed an Omnibus Motion for intervention and for allowance to immediately operate the cold rolling mill and galvanizing plant of SSC contending that its purpose in intervening is to seek the approval of the court to operate the said plant pursuant to the Capacity Lease Agreement it entered into with SSC.10IEB filed its Opposition to the said Motion.11

 

On February 14, 2005, the RTC issued an Order12 admitting the motions for intervention filed by CSMC and Metrobank.

 

On March 15, 2005, the RTC issued a Resolution, the dispositive portion of which reads, thus:

 

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the motion to operate the machineries pendente lite is hereby GRANTED based on law and equity as soon as practicable. This is without prejudice on the part of the I-bank [IEB] to assert the enforcement of the proposed schedule of payment submitted by SSC to the Court (Exh. “A” – Motion for Early Resolution, 2/16/2005 hearing) and to continually post their security guards unless withdrawn.

 

SO ORDERED.13

 

On June 8, 2005, the RTC issued a Joint Resolution14 reiterating its admission of CSMC’s motion for intervention and directing the latter to file its complaint-in-intervention.

 

On August 25, 2005, IEB filed a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with the CA assailing the RTC Orders dated September 6, 2004 and February 14, 2005, Resolution dated March 15, 2005 and Joint Resolution dated June 8, 2005.15

 

On May 5, 2006, the CA rendered its presently assailed Decision which disposed of the case as follows:

 

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The questioned Orders dated September 6, 2004, February 14, 2005, March 15, 2005 and June 8, 2005 issued by public respondent RTC, Branch 17, Misamis Oriental, presided by Hon. Florencia D. Sealana-Abbu in Civil Case Nos. 2004-197 and 2004-200 are hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Public respondent is hereby DIRECTED to turn-over the mortgaged properties covered by the writ of replevin to petitioner I-Bank for the eventual foreclosure thereof.

 

SO ORDERED.16

 

Metrobank, CSMC and SSC filed their respective motions for reconsideration, but these were all denied by the CA in its Resolution dated December 22, 2006.

 

Hence, the instant petitions for review on certiorari.

 

In G.R. No. 176008, petitioner Metrobank submits the following issues:

(A) WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT RULED THAT PETITIONER’S COMPLAINT-IN-INTERVENTION IS AN ACCION PAULIANA, A SUBSIDIARY ACTION, WHICH PRESUPPOSES AN UNSATISFIED JUDGMENT, WHICH UNSATISFIED JUDGMENT IS ABSENT IN THE CASE AT BAR.

 

(B) WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT RULED THAT THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN ALLOWING PETITIONER’S COMPLAINT-IN-INTERVENTION.17

 

In G.R. No. 176131, petitioner CSMC raises the following grounds:

 

I. THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN NOT PASSING UPON THE ISSUE THAT HEREIN RESPONDENT IBANK IS GUILTY OF FORUM-SHOPPING.

 

II. THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN NOT RULING THAT HEREIN RESPONDENT IBANK’S FAILURE TO FILE A MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION TO THE ORDER DATED 08 JUNE 2005 IS FATAL TO ITS PETITION.

 

III. THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THE ORDER OF JUDGE SEALANA-ABBU ADMITTING THE INTERVENTION OF HEREIN PETITIONER CSMC IS WITHOUT LEGAL BASIS.18

 

 

In a Manifestation and Motion dated September 26, 2007, petitioner Metrobank manifested that it no longer has any interest in pursuing the instant case as the loan obligation owed by SSC to it has been sold by the latter to a corporation known as Meridian(SPV-AMC) Corporation (Meridian). Accordingly, Metrobank prayed that it be substituted by Meridianas petitioner in the instant case.19

 

In a Resolution20 dated November 12, 2007, this Court granted Metrobank’s Motion.

At the outset, the Court takes note that no arguments or questions were raised by petitioners with respect to the September 6, 2004 Order and March 15, 2005 Resolution of the RTC which were annulled by the CA. Hence, the only issues left for resolution in the instant petition are whether or not petitioners Metrobank and CSMC may be allowed to intervene in Civil Case Nos. 2004-197 and 2004-200.

 

The Court will dwell first on the issues raised by Metrobank in G.R. No. 176008.

 

In its first assigned error, Metrobank contends that the CA erred in ruling that its Complaint-in-Intervention is in the nature of an accion pauliana.

 

The Court does not agree.

 

A perusal of Metrobank’s Complaint-in-Intervention would show that its main objective is to have the chattel mortgages executed by SSC in favor of IEB rescinded. This is clearly evident in its prayer, which reads as follows:

 

WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully prayed unto the Honorable Court that judgment be rendered:

 

(1) RESCINDING the chattel mortgages executed by Defendants Sacramento and Delmo in favor of Defendant Ibank dated May 25, 2004 and June 7, 2004, respectively;

 

(2) Ordering defendantsSacramento, Delmo and Ibank to pay, jointly and severally, Plaintiff-Intervenor the amounts of:

 

(A) P500,000.00, as and by way of exemplary damages;

(B) P500,000.00, as and by way of attorney’s fees; and

(C) Costs of suit.

 

Other reliefs as may be just and equitable under the premises are likewise prayed for.

 

x x x x21

 

 

Under Article 1381 of the Civil Code, an accion pauliana is an action to rescind contracts in fraud of creditors.22

 

However, jurisprudence is clear that the following successive measures must be taken by a creditor before he may bring an action for rescission of an allegedly fraudulent contract: (1) exhaust the properties of the debtor through levying by attachment and execution upon all the property of the debtor, except such as are exempt by law from execution; (2) exercise all the rights and actions of the debtor, save those personal to him (accion subrogatoria); and (3) seek rescission of the contracts executed by the debtor in fraud of their rights (accion pauliana).23 It is thus apparent that an action to rescind, or an accion pauliana, must be of last resort, availed of only after the creditor has exhausted all the properties of the debtor not exempt from execution or after all other legal remedies have been exhausted and have been proven futile.24

 

It does not appear that Metrobank sought other properties of SSC other than the subject lots alleged to have been transferred in fraud of creditors. Neither is there any showing that Metrobank subrogated itself in SSC’s transmissible rights and actions. Without availing of the first and second remedies, Metrobank simply undertook the third measure and filed an action for annulment of the chattel mortgages. This cannot be done. Article 1383 of the New Civil Code is very explicit that the right or remedy of the creditor to impugn the acts which the debtor may have done to defraud them is subsidiary in nature.25 It can only be availed of in the absence of any other legal remedy to obtain reparation for the injury.26 This fact is not present in this case. No evidence was presented nor even an allegation was offered to show that Metrobank had availed of the abovementioned remedies before it tried to question the validity of the contracts of chattel mortgage between IEB and SSC.

Metrobank also contends that in order to apply the concept of, and the rules pertaining to, accion pauliana, the subject matter must be a conveyance, otherwise valid, which is undertaken in fraud of creditors. Metrobank claims that since there is no conveyance involved in the contract of chattel mortgage between SSC and IEB, which Metrobank seeks to rescind, the CA erred in ruling that the latter’s Complaint-in-Intervention is an accion pauliana.

 

The Court is not persuaded.

 

In the instant case, the contract of chattel mortgage entered into by and between SSC and IEB involves a conveyance of patrimonial benefit in favor of the latter as the properties subject of the chattel mortgage stand as security for the credit it extended to SSC. In a very recent case involving an action for the rescission of a real estate mortgage,27 while this Court found that some of the elements of accion pauliana were not present, it found that a mortgage contract involves the conveyance of a patrimonial benefit.

In sum, Metrobank may not be allowed to intervene and pray for the rescission of the chattel mortgages executed by SSC in favor of IEB. The remedy being sought by Metrobank is in the nature of an accion pauliana which, under the factual circumstances obtaining in the present case, may not be allowed. Based on the foregoing, the Court finds no error in the ruling of the CA that the RTC committed grave abuse of discretion in allowing Metrobank’s intervention.

 

The Court will now proceed to resolve the issues raised by petitioner CSMC in G.R. No. 176131.

 

Firstly, CSMC contends that IEB was forum shopping when it filed a petition for certiorari with the CA seeking, among others, the enjoinment of the commercial operation of the subject machineries and equipment when its Opposition28 to the implementation of the Capacity Lease Agreement between SSC and CSMC is still pending determination by the RTC.

 

The Court does not agree.

 

Forum shopping has been defined as an act of a party, against whom an adverse judgment has been rendered in one forum, of seeking and possibly getting a favorable opinion in another forum, other than by appeal or a special civil action for certiorari, or the institution of two or more actions or proceedings grounded on the same cause on the supposition that one or the other court would make a favorable disposition.29

 

 

Forum shopping exists when two or more actions involve the same transactions, essential facts and circumstances, and raise identical causes of action, subject matter, and issues.30 Still another test of forum shopping is when the elements of litis pendencia are present or where a final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in another – whether in the two or more pending cases, there is an identity of (a) parties (or at least such parties as represent the same interests in both actions); (b) rights or causes of action, and (c) reliefs sought.31

 

In the instant case on the one hand, IEB’s Opposition questions the legality and seeks to prevent the implementation of the Capacity Lease Agreement between CSMC and SSC which, in essence, authorizes CSMC to operate the subject machineries pendente lite. On the other hand, the petition for certiorari filed by IEB assails and seeks to nullify, among others, the March 15, 2005 and June 8, 2005 Orders of the RTC allowing SSC to operate the subject machineries pendente lite. It is, thus, clear that there is no identity of subject matter, cause of action and reliefs sought in IEB’s Opposition filed with the RTC and in its petition for certiorari filed with the CA. Hence, IEB is not guilty of forum shopping.

 

Secondly, CSMC argues that IEB’s failure to file a motion for reconsideration of the RTC Order dated June 8, 2005 is fatal to its petition for certiorari filed with the CA.

 

 

 

 

 

The Court is not persuaded.

 

While the general rule is that before certiorari may be availed of, petitioner must have filed a motion for reconsideration of the act or order complained of, the Court has dispensed with this requirement in several instances.32 Thus, a previous motion for reconsideration before the filing of a petition for certiorari is necessary unless: (i) the issue raised is one purely of law; (ii) public interest is involved; (iii) there is urgency; (iv) a question of jurisdiction is squarely raised before and decided by the lower court; and (v) the order is a patent nullity.33 In the instant case, the Court agrees with the CA that there is no need for such motion because the issue regarding the applicability of the rule on intervention raised by IEB in its petition for certiorari filed with the CA, insofar as the June 8, 2005 Order of the RTC is concerned, is one purely of law.

 

The foregoing notwithstanding, the Court finds that the CA erred in ruling that the allowance of CSMC’s motion for intervention is improper. CSMC’s intervention should be allowed.

 

The purpose of intervention is to enable a stranger to an action to become a party in order for him to protect his interest and for the court to settle all conflicting claims.34 Intervention is allowed to avoid multiplicity of suits more than on due process considerations.35 To warrant intervention under Rule 19 of the Rules of Court, two requisites must concur: (1) the movant has a legal interest on the matter in litigation; and (2) intervention must not unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the rights of the parties, nor should the claim of the intervenor be capable of being properly decided in a separate proceeding.36

 

In the present case, CSMC, being a lessee of the subject properties, has a legal interest therein. The RTC correctly held, thus:

 

Under the Rules of Court, intervention is permissive and maybe permitted by the Court when the applicant shows facts which satisfy the requirements of the law authorizing intervention. (Firestone Ceramics Inc. vs. CA 313 SCRA 522) Records of the case showed that on August 30, 2004, an agreement was finalized and entered into by applicant Chuayuco and defendant/plaintiff Sacramento Steel Corporation whereby the former shall lease and make use of the machineries of Sacramento Steel under the Capacity Lease Agreement (CLA). One of the terms and condition[s] under [the] CLA was for the monthly lease payments to take effect upon signing of the contract. A person seeking to intervene in a suit must show that he has legal interest which must be actual and material, direct and immediate. He must show that he will either gain or lose by direct legal operation and effect of a judgment. (Hrs. of Nicolas Orosa vs. Migrino 218 SCRA 311) The Court finds that Chuayuco had a constituted and sufficient legal interest in the machineries subject of the litigation which is actual and material. Any disposition of the case will adversely affect the standing of the intervenor.37

 

 

Moreover, considering that CSMC’s interest is limited only to the operation of the subject machineries pursuant to its lease contract with SSC, its intervention would not unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the rights of SSC and IEB. CSMC’s intervention should be treated as one pro interesse suo which is a mode of intervention in equity wherein a stranger desires to intervene for the purpose of asserting a property right in the res, or thing, which is the subject matter of the litigation, without becoming a formal plaintiff or defendant, and without acquiring control over the course of a litigation, which is conceded to the main actors therein.38

 

Lastly, the Court does not agree with the CA when it ruled that the applicable provision is Rule 3, Section 19 (erroneously cited as Section 20) of the Rules of Court on transfer of interest and substitution of parties. Being a mere lessee of the subject properties, CSMC is a stranger insofar as the dispute between SSC and IEB is concerned. The action filed by IEB against SSC is an action for the payment or satisfaction of the loans incurred by the latter, which includes a possible foreclosure of the subject properties given as security for the said loans. CSMC may not be considered a successor, and may not be substituted in place of SSC, insofar as these loans are concerned. If any, what has been transferred to CSMC is only the right of SSC to operate the subject equipment and machineries which it owns. As such, SSC may not be removed as defendant because its interest in the subject properties remains, being the owner thereof.

 

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 00549-MIN are AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. The February 14, 2005 Order of the Regional Trial Court of Misamis Oriental, Branch 17, is MODIFIED by denying Metrobank’s Motion for Intervention, while the Joint Resolution of the same trial court, dated June 8, 2005, reiterating its admission of CSMC’s Motion for Intervention and directing the latter to file its complaint-in-intervention, is REINSTATED.

 

SO ORDERED.

 

 

 

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

WE CONCUR:

 

 

 

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. ARTURO D. BRION

Associate Justice Associate Justice

Chairperson

 

 

 

 

 

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO

Associate Justice

 

 

 

ATTESTATION

 

 

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

 

 

 

 

 

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.

Associate Justice

Third Division, Chairperson

 

 

 

 

 

CERTIFICATION

 

 

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson’s Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

 

 

 

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice

 

* Designated as an additional member in lieu of Associate Justice Roberto A. Abad, per Special Order No. 1059 dated August 1, 2011.

** Designated as an additional member in lieu of Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza, per Special Order No. 1056 dated July 27, 2011.

*** Designated as an additional member, per Special Order No. 1028 dated June 21, 2011.

1Penned by Associate Justice Rodrigo F. Lim, Jr., with Associate Justices Normandie B. Pizarro and Ramon R. Garcia, concurring.

2Penned by Associate Justice Rodrigo F. Lim, Jr., with Associate Justices Teresita Dy-Liacco Flores and Mario V. Lopez, concurring.

3CA rollo, p. 74.

4Id. at 94.

5 Id. at 84.

6See RTC 2nd Order dated July 30, 2004, id. at 160.

7Id.

8Id. at 56.

9Id. at 218; See also Complaint-in-Intervention, id. at 221-227.

10Id. at 236.

11Id. at 243.

12 Id. at 59-60.

13Id. at 68-69.

14 Id. at 70-73.

15Id. at 2.

16Rollo (G.R. No.176131), p. 65.

17Rollo (G.R. No. 176008), p. 13.

18Rollo (G.R. No. 176131), pp. 22-23.

19Id. at 519.

20 Id. at 523.

21CA rollo, p. 225. (Emphasis supplied.)

22Lee v. Bangkok Bank Public Company, Limited, G.R. No. 173349, February 9, 2011; Siguan v. Lim, G.R. No. 134685, November 19, 1999, 318 SCRA 725,

23Khe Hong Cheng v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 144169, March 28, 2001, 355 SCRA 701, 710; Adorable v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 119466, November 25, 1999, 319 SCRA 200, 207.

24Khe Hong Cheng v. Court of Appeals, supra at 708; Unionbank of the Philippines v. Spouses Ong, G.R. No. 152347, June 21, 2006, 491 SCRA 581, 596.

25Art. 1383. The action for rescission is subsidiary; it cannot be instituted except when the party suffering damage has not other legal means to obtain reparation for the same.

26Adorable v. Court of Appeals, supra note 23.

27See Lee v. Bangkok Bank Public Company, Limited, supra note 22.

28CA rollo, p. 576.

29PHILPHARMAWEALTH, Inc. v. Pfizer, Inc. and Pfizer (Phil.), Inc., G.R. No. 167715, November 17, 2010; Philippine Islands Corporation for Tourism Development, Inc. v. Victorias Milling Co., Inc., G.R. No. 167674, June 17, 2008, 554 SCRA 561, 569; Duvaz Corporation v. Export and Industry Bank, G.R. No. 163011, June 7, 2007, 523 SCRA 405, 416-417.

30Polanco v. Cruz, G.R. No. 182426, February 13, 2009, 579 SCRA 489, 495.

31Id. at 495-496.

32JP Latex Technology, Inc. v. Ballons Granger Balloons, Inc., G.R. No. 177121, March 16, 2009, 581 SCRA 553, 560-561; Llamzon v. Logronio, G.R. No. 167745, June 26, 2007, 525 SCRA 691, 706.

33Id.

34Heirs of Francisca Medrano v. De Vera, G.R. No. 165770, August 9, 2010, 627 SCRA 108, 122.

35Id.

36Office of the Ombudsman v. Sison, G.R. No. 185954, February 16, 2010, 612 SCRA 702, 713.

37CA rollo, p. 72.

38Perez v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 107737, October 1, 1999, 316 SCRA 43, 58.

 

 

CASE 2011-0180: PROF. MERLIN M. MAGALLONA, AKBAYAN PARTY-LIST REP. RISA HONTIVEROS, PROF. HARRY C. ROQUE, JR., AND UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES COLLEGE OF LAW STUDENTS, ALITHEA BARBARA ACAS, VOLTAIRE ALFERES, CZARINA MAY ALTEZ, FRANCIS ALVIN ASILO, SHERYL BALOT, RUBY AMOR BARRACA, JOSE JAVIER BAUTISTA, ROMINA BERNARDO, VALERIE PAGASA BUENAVENTURA, EDAN MARRI CAÑETE, VANN ALLEN DELA CRUZ, RENE DELORINO, PAULYN MAY DUMAN, SHARON, ESCOTO, RODRIGO FAJARDO III, GIRLIE FERRER, RAOULLE OSEN FERRER, CARLA REGINA GREPO, ANNA MARIE CECILIA GO, IRISH KAY KALAW, MARY ANN JOY LEE, MARIA LUISA MANALAYSAY, MIGUEL RAFAEL MUSNGI, MICHAEL OCAMPO, JAKLYN HANNA PINEDA, WILLIAM RAGAMAT, MARICAR RAMOS, ENRIK FORT REVILLAS, JAMES MARK TERRY RIDON, JOHANN FRANTZ RIVERA IV, CHRISTIAN RIVERO, DIANNE MARIE ROA, NICHOLAS SANTIZO, MELISSA CHRISTINA SANTOS, CRISTINE MAE TABING, VANESSA ANNE TORNO, MARIA ESTER VANGUARDIA, and MARCELINO VELOSO III, VS. HON. EDUARDO ERMITA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, HON. ALBERTO ROMULO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, HON. ROLANDO ANDAYA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT, HON. DIONY VENTURA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE NATIONAL MAPPING & RESOURCE INFORMATION AUTHORITY, and HON. HILARIO DAVIDE, JR., IN HIS CAPACITY AS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE PERMANENT MISSION OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES TO THE UNITED NATIONS (G.R. NO. 187167, 16 JULY 2011, CARPIO, J.) SUBJECT: PHILIPPINE TERRITORY (BRIEF TITLE: MAGALLONA VS. ERMITA).

CASE 2011-0180: PROF. MERLIN M. MAGALLONA, AKBAYAN PARTY-LIST REP. RISA HONTIVEROS, PROF. HARRY C. ROQUE, JR., AND UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES COLLEGE OF LAW STUDENTS, ALITHEA BARBARA ACAS, VOLTAIRE ALFERES, CZARINA MAY ALTEZ, FRANCIS ALVIN ASILO, SHERYL BALOT, RUBY AMOR BARRACA, JOSE JAVIER BAUTISTA, ROMINA BERNARDO, VALERIE PAGASA BUENAVENTURA, EDAN MARRI CAÑETE, VANN ALLEN DELA CRUZ, RENE DELORINO, PAULYN MAY DUMAN, SHARON,  ESCOTO, RODRIGO FAJARDO III, GIRLIE FERRER, RAOULLE OSEN FERRER, CARLA REGINA GREPO, ANNA MARIE CECILIA GO, IRISH KAY KALAW, MARY ANN JOY LEE, MARIA LUISA MANALAYSAY, MIGUEL RAFAEL MUSNGI, MICHAEL OCAMPO, JAKLYN HANNA PINEDA, WILLIAM RAGAMAT, MARICAR RAMOS, ENRIK FORT REVILLAS, JAMES MARK TERRY RIDON, JOHANN FRANTZ RIVERA IV, CHRISTIAN RIVERO, DIANNE MARIE ROA, NICHOLAS SANTIZO, MELISSA CHRISTINA SANTOS, CRISTINE MAE TABING, VANESSA ANNE TORNO, MARIA ESTER VANGUARDIA, and MARCELINO VELOSO III,  VS. HON. EDUARDO ERMITA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, HON. ALBERTO ROMULO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, HON. ROLANDO ANDAYA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT, HON. DIONY VENTURA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE NATIONAL MAPPING & RESOURCE INFORMATION AUTHORITY, and HON. HILARIO DAVIDE, JR., IN HIS CAPACITY AS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE PERMANENT MISSION OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES TO THE UNITED NATIONS (G.R. NO. 187167, 16 JULY 2011, CARPIO, J.) SUBJECT: PHILIPPINE TERRITORY (BRIEF TITLE: MAGALLONA VS. ERMITA).

 

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SUBJECT/DOCTRINE/DIGEST

 

DO PETITIONERS WHO ARE A LAW PROFESSOR,  STUDENTS AND A CONGRESSMAN HAVE LEGAL STANDING IN FILING THIS CASE?

 

YES. PETITIONERS HAVE  LOCUS STANDI AS CITIZENS WITH CONSTITUTIONALLY SUFFICIENT INTEREST IN THE RESOLUTION OF THE MERITS OF THE CASE WHICH UNDOUBTEDLY RAISES ISSUES OF NATIONAL SIGNIFICANCE NECESSITATING URGENT RESOLUTION.

Petitioners themselves undermine their assertion of locus standi as legislators and taxpayers because the petition alleges neither infringement of legislative prerogative15 nor misuse of public funds,16 occasioned by the passage and implementation of RA 9522. Nonetheless, we recognize petitioners’ locus standi as citizens with constitutionally sufficient interest in the resolution of the merits of the case which undoubtedly raises issues of national significance necessitating urgent resolution. Indeed, owing to the peculiar nature of RA 9522, it is understandably difficult to find other litigants possessing “a more direct and specific interest” to bring the suit, thus satisfying one of the requirements for granting citizenship standing.17

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RESPONDENTS  ASK THAT THE CASE WHICH SEEK FOR WRITS OF CERTIORARI AND PROHIBITION BE DISMISSED ABSENT ANY SHOWING OF GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION. IS THEIR CONTENTION CORRECT?

 

IN ORDINARY CIVIL CASES, YES. BUT IN THIS CASE. WHEN THE SUPREME COURT  EXERCISES ITS CONSTITUTIONAL POWER OF JUDICIAL REVIEW, HOWEVER, THEY HAVE  BY TRADITION, VIEWED THE WRITS OF CERTIORARI AND PROHIBITION AS PROPER REMEDIAL VEHICLES TO TEST THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF STATUTES.

In praying for the dismissal of the petition on preliminary grounds, respondents seek a strict observance of the offices of the writs of certiorari and prohibition, noting that the writs cannot issue absent any showing of grave abuse of discretion in the exercise of judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial powers on the part of respondents and resulting prejudice on the part of petitioners.18

Respondents’ submission holds true in ordinary civil proceedings. When this Court exercises its constitutional power of judicial review, however, we have, by tradition, viewed the writs of certiorari and prohibition as proper remedial vehicles to test the constitutionality of statutes,19 and indeed, of acts of other branches of government.20 Issues of constitutional import are sometimes crafted out of statutes which, while having no bearing on the personal interests of the petitioners, carry such relevance in the life of this nation that the Court inevitably finds itself constrained to take cognizance of the case and pass upon the issues raised, non-compliance with the letter of procedural rules notwithstanding. The statute sought to be reviewed here is one such law.

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PETITIONERS ARGUE THAT RA 95522 IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL BECAUSE IT DISMEMBERS A LARGE PORTION OF THE NATIONAL TERRITORY. IS THEIR ARGUMENT CORRECT?

 

NO. RA 9522 ONLY DEMARCATE THE COUNTRY’S MARITIME ZONE AND CONTINENTAL SHELF UNDER UNCLOS III. IT DOES NOT DELINEATE PHIPPINE TERRITORY.

Petitioners submit that RA 9522 “dismembers a large portion of the national territory”21 because it discards the pre-UNCLOS III demarcation of Philippine territory under the Treaty of Paris and related treaties, successively encoded in the definition of national territory under the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions. Petitioners theorize that this constitutional definition trumps any treaty or statutory provision denying the Philippines sovereign control over waters, beyond the territorial sea recognized at the time of the Treaty of Paris, that Spain supposedly ceded to the United States. Petitioners argue that from the Treaty of Paris’ technical description, Philippine sovereignty over territorial waters extends hundreds of nautical miles around the Philippine archipelago, embracing the rectangular area delineated in the Treaty of Paris.22

Petitioners’ theory fails to persuade us.

UNCLOS III has nothing to do with the acquisition (or loss) of territory. It is a multilateral treaty regulating, among others, 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 that UNCLOS III delimits.23 UNCLOS III was the culmination of decades-long negotiations among United Nations members to codify norms regulating the conduct of States in the world’s oceans and submarine areas, recognizing coastal and archipelagic States’ graduated authority over a limited span of waters and submarine lands along their coasts.

On the other hand, baselines laws such as RA 9522 are enacted by UNCLOS III States parties to mark-out specific basepoints along their coasts from which baselines are drawn, either straight or contoured, to serve as geographic starting points to measure the breadth of the maritime zones and continental shelf. Article 48 of UNCLOS III on archipelagic States like ours could not be any clearer:

Article 48. Measurement of the breadth of the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf. – The breadth of the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf shall be measured from archipelagic baselines drawn in accordance with article 47. (Emphasis supplied)

Thus, baselines laws are nothing but statutory mechanisms for UNCLOS III States parties to delimit with precision the extent of their maritime zones and continental shelves. In turn, this gives notice to the rest of the international community of the scope of the maritime space and submarine areas within which States parties exercise treaty-based rights, namely, the exercise of sovereignty over territorial waters (Article 2), the jurisdiction to enforce customs, fiscal, immigration, and sanitation laws in the contiguous zone (Article 33), and the right to exploit the living and non-living resources in the exclusive economic zone (Article 56) and continental shelf (Article 77).

Even under petitioners’ theory that the Philippine territory embraces the islands and all the waters within the rectangular area delimited in the Treaty of Paris, the baselines of the Philippines would still have to be drawn in accordance with RA 9522 because this is the only way to draw the baselines in conformity with UNCLOS III. The baselines cannot be drawn from the boundaries or other portions of the rectangular area delineated in the Treaty of Paris, but from the “outermost islands and drying reefs of the archipelago.”24

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WHAT IS THE NATURE OF RA 9522?

 

IT IS A BASELINES LAW. AS SUCH IT PLAYS NO ROLE IN THE ACQUISITION, ENLARGEMENT OR DIMINUTION OF TERRITORY.

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HOW DOES THE STATE ACQUIRE OR LOSE TERRITORY?

 

BY OCCUPATION, ACCRETION, CESSION AND PRESCRIPTION,25 NOT BY EXECUTING MULTILATERAL TREATIES ON THE REGULATIONS OF SEA-USE RIGHTS OR ENACTING STATUTES TO COMPLY WITH THE TREATY’S TERMS TO DELIMIT MARITIME ZONES AND CONTINENTAL SHELVES. TERRITORIAL CLAIMS TO LAND FEATURES ARE OUTSIDE UNCLOS III, AND ARE INSTEAD GOVERNED BY THE RULES ON GENERAL INTERNATIONAL LAW.26

UNCLOS III and its ancillary baselines laws play no role in the acquisition, enlargement or, as petitioners claim, diminution of territory. Under traditional international law typology, States acquire (or conversely, lose) territory through occupation, accretion, cession and prescription,25 not by executing multilateral treaties on the regulations of sea-use rights or enacting statutes to comply with the treaty’s terms to delimit maritime zones and continental shelves. Territorial claims to land features are outside UNCLOS III, and are instead governed by the rules on general international law.26

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PETITIONERS ARGUE THAT RA 9522 WEAKENS OUR  CLAIM OVER  THE KALAYAAN ISLAND GROUP.

 

NO AS SHOWN BELOW.

Petitioners next submit that RA 9522’s use of UNCLOS III’s regime of islands framework to draw the baselines, and to measure the breadth of the applicable maritime zones of the KIG, “weakens our territorial claim” over that area.27 Petitioners add that the KIG’s (and Scarborough Shoal’s) exclusion from the Philippine archipelagic baselines results in the loss of “about 15,000 square nautical miles of territorial waters,” prejudicing the livelihood of subsistence fishermen.28 A comparison of the configuration of the baselines drawn under RA 3046 and RA 9522 and the extent of maritime space encompassed by each law, coupled with a reading of the text of RA 9522 and its congressional deliberations, vis-à-vis the Philippines’ obligations under UNCLOS III, belie this view.

The configuration of the baselines drawn under RA 3046 and RA 9522 shows that RA 9522 merely followed the basepoints mapped by RA 3046, save for at least nine basepoints that RA 9522 skipped to optimize the location of basepoints and adjust the length of one baseline (and thus comply with UNCLOS III’s limitation on the maximum length of baselines). Under RA 3046, as under RA 9522, the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal lie outside of the baselines drawn around the Philippine archipelago. This undeniable cartographic fact takes the wind out of petitioners’ argument branding RA 9522 as a statutory renunciation of thePhilippines’ claim over the KIG, assuming that baselines are relevant for this purpose.

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PETITIONERS ASSERT THAT WE WOULD LOSE 15,000 SQUARE NAUTICAL MILES OF TERRITORIAL WATERS UNDER RA 9522. IS THIS CONTENTION CORRECT?

 

NO. OUR TOTAL MARITIME SPACE IS EVEN INCREASED BY 145,216 SQUARE NAUTICAL MILES AS SHOWN BELOW.

Petitioners’ assertion of loss of “about 15,000 square nautical miles of territorial waters” under RA 9522 is similarly unfounded both in fact and law. On the contrary, RA 9522, by optimizing the location of basepoints, increased the Philippines’ total maritime space (covering its internal waters, territorial sea and exclusive economic zone) by 145,216 square nautical miles, as shown in the table below:29

  Extent of maritime area using RA 3046, as amended, taking into account the Treaty of Paris’ delimitation (in square nautical miles) Extent of maritime area using RA 9522, taking into account UNCLOS III (in square nautical miles)
Internal or archipelagic waters  166,858  171,435
 TerritorialSea  274,136  32,106
 Exclusive Economic Zone     382,669
TOTAL 440,994 586,210

Thus, as the map below shows, the reach of the exclusive economic zone drawn under RA 9522 even extends way beyond the waters covered by the rectangular demarcation under the Treaty of Paris. Of course, where there are overlapping exclusive economic zones of opposite or adjacent States, there will have to be a delineation of maritime boundaries in accordance with UNCLOS III.30

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PETITIONERS ARGUE THAT KIG NOW LIES OUTSIDE PHILIPPINE TERRITORY BECAUSE THE BASELINES THAT RA 9522 DRAWS DO NOT ENCLOSE THE KIG. IS THIS ARGUMENT CORRECT?

 

NO. RA 9522 EXPRESSLY STATES OUR CLAIM OF SOVEREIGNTY AND JURISDICTION OVER THE KALAYAAN ISLAND GROUP AND SCARBOROUGH SHOAL.

Further, petitioners’ argument that the KIG now lies outside Philippine territory because the baselines that RA 9522 draws do not enclose the KIG is negated by RA 9522 itself. Section 2 of the law commits to text thePhilippines’ continued claim of sovereignty and jurisdiction over the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal:

SEC. 2. The baselines in the following areas over which the Philippines likewise exercises sovereignty and jurisdiction shall be determined as “Regime of Islands” under the Republic of the Philippines consistent with Article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS):

a) The Kalayaan Island Group as constituted under Presidential Decree No. 1596 and

b) Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal. (Emphasis supplied)

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WHY DID CONGRESS IN RA 9522 NOT ENCLOSE THE KIG AND THE SCARBOROUGH SHOAL?

 

BECAUSE THEY WOULD COMMIT A BREACH OF THE PROVISIONS OF UNCLOS III AS SHOWN BELOW.

Had Congress in RA 9522 enclosed the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal as part of the Philippine archipelago, adverse legal effects would have ensued. The Philippineswould have committed a breach of two provisions of UNCLOS III. First, Article 47 (3) of UNCLOS III requires that “[t]he drawing of such baselines shall not depart to any appreciable extent from the general configuration of the archipelago.” Second, Article 47 (2) of UNCLOS III requires that “the length of the baselines shall not exceed 100 nautical miles,” save for three per cent (3%) of the total number of baselines which can reach up to 125 nautical miles.31

Although the Philippines has consistently claimed sovereignty over the KIG32 and the Scarborough Shoal for several decades, these outlying areas are located at an appreciable distance from the nearest shoreline of the Philippine archipelago,33 such that any straight baseline loped around them from the nearest basepoint will inevitably “depart to an appreciable extent from the general configuration of the archipelago.”

The principal sponsor of RA 9522 in the Senate, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, took pains to emphasize the foregoing during the Senate deliberations:

What we call the Kalayaan Island Group or what the rest of the world call[] the Spratlys and the Scarborough Shoal are outside our archipelagic baseline because if we put them inside our baselines we might be accused of violating the provision of international law which states: “The drawing of such baseline shall not depart to any appreciable extent from the general configuration of the archipelago.” So sa loob ng ating baseline, dapat magkalapit ang mga islands. Dahil malayo ang Scarborough Shoal, hindi natin masasabing malapit sila sa atin although we are still allowed by international law to claim them as our own.

This is called contested islands outside our configuration. We see that our archipelago is defined by the orange line which [we] call[] archipelagic baseline. Ngayon, tingnan ninyo ang maliit na circle doon sa itaas, that is Scarborough Shoal, itong malaking circle sa ibaba, that is Kalayaan Group or the Spratlys. Malayo na sila sa ating archipelago kaya kung ilihis pa natin ang dating archipelagic baselines para lamang masama itong dalawang circles, hindi na sila magkalapit at baka hindi na tatanggapin ng United Nations because of the rule that it should follow the natural configuration of the archipelago.34 (Emphasis supplied)

Similarly, the length of one baseline that RA 3046 drew exceeded UNCLOS III’s limits. The need to shorten this baseline, and in addition, to optimize the location of basepoints using current maps, became imperative as discussed by respondents:

[T]he amendment of the baselines law was necessary to enable the Philippines to draw the outer limits of its maritime zones including the extended continental shelf in the manner provided by Article 47 of [UNCLOS III]. As defined by R.A. 3046, as amended by R.A. 5446, the baselines suffer from some technical deficiencies, to wit:

1.    The length of the baseline acrossMoro Gulf(from Middle of 3 Rock Awash to Tongquil Point) is 140.06 nautical miles x x x. This exceeds the maximum length allowed under Article 47(2) of the [UNCLOS III], which states that “The length of such baselines shall not exceed 100 nautical miles, except that up to 3 per cent of the total number of baselines enclosing any archipelago may exceed that length, up to a maximum length of 125 nautical miles.”

2.    The selection of basepoints is not optimal. At least 9 basepoints can be skipped or deleted from the baselines system. This will enclose an additional 2,195 nautical miles of water.

3.    Finally, the basepoints were drawn from maps existing in 1968, and not established by geodetic survey methods. Accordingly, some of the points, particularly along the west coasts of Luzon down to Palawan were later found to be located either inland or on water, not on low-water line and drying reefs as prescribed by Article 47.35

Hence, far from surrendering the Philippines’ claim over the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal, Congress’ decision to classify the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal as “‘Regime[s] of Islands’ under the Republic of the Philippines consistent with Article 121”36 of UNCLOS III manifests the Philippine State’s responsible observance of its pacta sunt servanda obligation under UNCLOS III. Under Article 121 of UNCLOS III, any “naturally formed area of land, surrounded by water, which is above water at high tide,” such as portions of the KIG, qualifies under the category of “regime of islands,” whose islands generate their own applicable maritime zones.37

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IS OUR STATUTORY CLAIM OVER SABAH UNDER RA 9522  RETAINED?

 

YES. OUR CLAIM OVER SABAH IS UNDER RA 5446 WHICH RA 9522 DID NOT REPEAL.

Petitioners’ argument for the invalidity of RA 9522 for its failure to textualize thePhilippines’ claim over Sabah inNorth Borneois also untenable. Section 2 of RA 5446, which RA 9522 did not repeal, keeps open the door for drawing the baselines ofSabah:

Section 2. The definition of the baselines of the territorial sea of the Philippine Archipelago as provided in this Act is without prejudice to the 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. (Emphasis supplied)

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PETITIONERS ARGUE THAT RA 9522 CONVERTS INTERNAL WATERS INTO ARCHIPELAGIC WATERS HENCE SUBJECTING INTERNAL WATERS  TO RIGHT OF INNOCENT AND SEA LANES PASSAGE. IT THIS ARGUMENT CORRECT?

 

NO. PHILIPPINES STILL EXERCISES SOVEREIGNTY OVER THESE WATERS UNDER UNCLOS III. THE POLITICAL BRANCHES OF THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT, IN THE COMPETENT DISCHARGE OF THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL POWERS, MAY PASS LEGISLATION DESIGNATING ROUTES WITHIN THE ARCHIPELAGIC WATERS TO REGULATE INNOCENT AND SEA LANES PASSAGE.40

As their final argument against the validity of RA 9522, petitioners contend that the law unconstitutionally “converts” internal waters into archipelagic waters, hence subjecting these waters to the right of innocent and sea lanes passage under UNCLOS III, including overflight. Petitioners extrapolate that these passage rights indubitably expose Philippine internal waters to nuclear and maritime pollution hazards, in violation of the Constitution.38

Whether referred to as Philippine “internal waters” under Article I of the Constitution39 or as “archipelagic waters” under UNCLOS III (Article 49 [1]), thePhilippines exercises sovereignty over the body of water lying landward of the baselines, including the air space over it and the submarine areas underneath. UNCLOS III affirms this:

Article 49. Legal status of archipelagic waters, of the air space over archipelagic waters and of their bed and subsoil. –

1.    The sovereignty of an archipelagic State extends to the waters enclosed by the archipelagic baselines drawn in accordance with article 47, described as archipelagic waters, regardless of their depth or distance from the coast.

2.    This sovereignty extends to the air space over the archipelagic waters, as well as to their bed and subsoil, and the resources contained therein.

x x x x

4. The regime of archipelagic sea lanes passage established in this Part shall not in other respects affect the status of the archipelagic waters, including the sea lanes, or the exercise by the archipelagic State of its sovereignty over such waters and their air space, bed and subsoil, and the resources contained therein. (Emphasis supplied)

The fact of sovereignty, however, does not preclude the operation of municipal and international law norms subjecting the territorial sea or archipelagic waters to necessary, if not marginal, burdens in the interest of maintaining unimpeded, expeditious international navigation, consistent with the international law principle of freedom of navigation. Thus, domestically, the political branches of the Philippine government, in the competent discharge of their constitutional powers, may pass legislation designating routes within the archipelagic waters to regulate innocent and sea lanes passage.40 Indeed, bills drawing nautical highways for sea lanes passage are now pending in Congress.41

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SUPPOSE THERE IS NO MUNICIPAL LEGISLATION, WHAT WILL GOVERN INNOCENT PASSAGE RIGHTS?

INTERNATIONAL LAW, CODIFIED IN UNCLOS III, GOVERNS INNOCENT PASSAGE RIGHTS OVER THE TERRITORIAL SEA OR ARCHIPELAGIC WATERS, SUBJECT TO THE TREATY’S LIMITATIONS AND CONDITIONS FOR THEIR EXERCISE.42

In the absence of municipal legislation, international law norms, now codified in UNCLOS III, operate to grant innocent passage rights over the territorial sea or archipelagic waters, subject to the treaty’s limitations and conditions for their exercise.42 Significantly, the right of innocent passage is a customary international law,43 thus automatically incorporated in the corpus of Philippine law.44 No modern State can validly invoke its sovereignty to absolutely forbid innocent passage that is exercised in accordance with customary international law without risking retaliatory measures from the international community.

The fact that for archipelagic States, their archipelagic waters are subject to both the right of innocent passage and sea lanes passage45 does not place them in lesser footing vis-à-vis continental coastal States which are subject, in their territorial sea, to the right of innocent passage and the right of transit passage through international straits. The imposition of these passage rights through archipelagic waters under UNCLOS III was a concession by archipelagic States, in exchange for their right to claim all the waters landward of their baselines, regardless of their depth or distance from the coast, as archipelagic waters subject to their territorial sovereignty. More importantly, the recognition of archipelagic States’ archipelago and the waters enclosed by their baselines as one cohesive entity prevents the treatment of their islands as separate islands under UNCLOS III.46 Separate islands generate their own maritime zones, placing the waters between islands separated by more than 24 nautical miles beyond the States’ territorial sovereignty, subjecting these waters to the rights of other States under UNCLOS III.47

 

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PETITIONER CITES ART. II OF THE CONSTITUTION. SECTION 7 OF ART II PROVIDES: THE STATE SHALL PURSUE AN INDEPENDENT FOREIGN POLICY. IN ITS RELATIONS WITH OTHER STATES THE PARAMOUNT CONSIDERATION SHALL BE NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY, TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY, NATIONAL INTEREST, AND THE RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION. DOES RA 9522 VIOLATES SUCH PROVISION?

NO. JURISPRUDENCE CONSIDERS THE PROVISIONS IN ARTICLE II AS MERE LEGISLATIVE GUIDES, WHICH, ABSENT ENABLING LEGISLATION, “DO NOT EMBODY JUDICIALLY ENFORCEABLE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS X X X.”49 ARTICLE II PROVISIONS SERVE AS GUIDES IN FORMULATING AND INTERPRETING IMPLEMENTING LEGISLATION, AS WELL AS IN INTERPRETING EXECUTORY PROVISIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION.

Petitioners’ invocation of non-executory constitutional provisions in Article II (Declaration of Principles and State Policies)48 must also fail. Our present state of jurisprudence considers the provisions in Article II as mere legislative guides, which, absent enabling legislation, “do not embody judicially enforceable constitutional rights x x x.”49 Article II provisions serve as guides in formulating and interpreting implementing legislation, as well as in interpreting executory provisions of the Constitution. Although Oposa v. Factoran50 treated the right to a healthful and balanced ecology under Section 16 of Article II as an exception, the present petition lacks factual basis to substantiate the claimed constitutional violation. The other provisions petitioners cite, relating to the protection of marine wealth (Article XII, Section 2, paragraph 251) and subsistence fishermen (Article XIII, Section 752), are not violated by RA 9522.

In fact, the demarcation of the baselines enables thePhilippinesto delimit its exclusive economic zone, reserving solely to thePhilippinesthe 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.

 

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WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF UNCLOS III?

 

UNCLOS III GRANTS NEW RIGHTS TO COASTAL STATES TO EXCLUSIVELY EXPLOIT THE RESOURCES FOUND WITHIN THIS ZONE UP TO 200 NAUTICAL MILES.53 UNCLOS III, HOWEVER, PRESERVES THE TRADITIONAL FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION OF OTHER STATES THAT ATTACHED TO THIS ZONE BEYOND THE TERRITORIAL SEA BEFORE UNCLOS III.

UNCLOS III favors States with a long coastline like the Philippines. UNCLOS III creates a sui generis maritime space – the exclusive economic zone – in waters previously part of the high seas. UNCLOS III grants new rights to coastal States to exclusively exploit the resources found within this zone up to 200 nautical miles.53 UNCLOS III, however, preserves the traditional freedom of navigation of other States that attached to this zone beyond the territorial sea before UNCLOS III.

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WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGE IF CONGRESS DID NOT PASS RA 9522?

 

FIRST, IT SENDS AN OPEN INVITATION TO THE SEAFARING POWERS TO FREELY ENTER AND EXPLOIT THE RESOURCES IN THE WATERS AND SUBMARINE AREAS AROUND OUR ARCHIPELAGO; AND SECOND, IT WEAKENS THE COUNTRY’S CASE IN ANY INTERNATIONAL DISPUTE OVER PHILIPPINE MARITIME SPACE. THESE ARE CONSEQUENCES CONGRESS WISELY AVOIDED.

 

Petitioners hold the view that, based on the permissive text of UNCLOS III, Congress was not bound to pass RA 9522.54 We have looked at the relevant provision of UNCLOS III55 and we find petitioners’ reading plausible. Nevertheless, the prerogative of choosing this option belongs to Congress, not to this Court. Moreover, the luxury of choosing this option comes at a very steep price. Absent an UNCLOS III compliant baselines law, an archipelagic State like the Philippines will find itself devoid of internationally acceptable baselines from where the breadth of its maritime zones and continental shelf is measured. This is recipe for a two-fronted disaster: first, it sends an open invitation to the seafaring powers to freely enter and exploit the resources in the waters and submarine areas around our archipelago; and second, it weakens the country’s case in any international dispute over Philippine maritime space. These are consequences Congress wisely avoided.

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 thePhilippines’ maritime zones and continental shelf. RA 9522 is therefore a most vital step on the part of thePhilippinesin safeguarding its maritime zones, consistent with the Constitution and our national interest.

 

===========================

EN BANC

PROF. MERLIN M. MAGALLONA,                                      G.R No. 187167

AKBAYAN PARTY-LIST REP. RISA

HONTIVEROS, PROF. HARRY C.                                         Present:

ROQUE, JR., AND UNIVERSITY OF

THE PHILIPPINES COLLEGE OF                                         CORONA, C.J.,

LAW STUDENTS, ALITHEA                                        CARPIO,

BARBARA ACAS, VOLTAIRE                                               VELASCO, JR.,

ALFERES, CZARINA MAY                                                    LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,

ALTEZ, FRANCIS ALVIN ASILO,                                         BRION,

SHERYL BALOT, RUBY AMOR                                            PERALTA,

BARRACA, JOSE JAVIER BAUTISTA,                                 BERSAMIN,

ROMINA BERNARDO, VALERIE                                         DEL CASTILLO,

PAGASA BUENAVENTURA, EDAN                                      ABAD,

MARRI CAÑETE, VANN ALLEN                                          VILLARAMA, JR.,

DELA CRUZ, RENE DELORINO,                                          PEREZ,

PAULYN MAY DUMAN, SHARON                                       MENDOZA, and

ESCOTO, RODRIGO FAJARDO III,                                      SERENO, JJ.

GIRLIE FERRER, RAOULLE OSEN

FERRER, CARLA REGINA GREPO,

ANNA MARIE CECILIA GO, IRISH

KAY KALAW, MARY ANN JOY LEE,

MARIA LUISA MANALAYSAY,

MIGUEL RAFAEL MUSNGI,

MICHAEL OCAMPO, JAKLYN HANNA

PINEDA, WILLIAM RAGAMAT,

MARICAR RAMOS, ENRIK FORT

REVILLAS, JAMES MARK TERRY

RIDON, JOHANN FRANTZ RIVERA IV,

CHRISTIAN RIVERO, DIANNE MARIE

ROA, NICHOLAS SANTIZO, MELISSA

CHRISTINA SANTOS, CRISTINE MAE

TABING, VANESSA ANNE TORNO,

MARIA ESTER VANGUARDIA, and

MARCELINO VELOSO III,

Petitioners,

- versus -

HON. EDUARDO ERMITA, IN HIS

CAPACITY AS EXECUTIVE

SECRETARY, HON. ALBERTO

ROMULO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS

SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT

OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, HON.

ROLANDO ANDAYA, IN HIS CAPACITY

AS SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT

OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT,

HON. DIONY VENTURA, IN HIS

CAPACITY AS ADMINISTRATOR OF

THE NATIONAL MAPPING &

RESOURCE INFORMATION

AUTHORITY, and HON. HILARIO

DAVIDE, JR., IN HIS CAPACITY AS

REPRESENTATIVE OF THE

PERMANENT MISSION OF THE

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES                              Promulgated:

TO THE UNITED NATIONS,

Respondents.                                                                             July 16, 2011

x —————————————————————————————–x

D E C I S I O N

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

This original 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.

The Antecedents

In 1961, Congress passed Republic Act No. 3046 (RA 3046)2 demarcating the maritime baselines of the Philippines as an archipelagic State.3 This law followed the framing of the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone in 1958 (UNCLOS I),4 codifying, among others, the sovereign right of States parties over their “territorial sea,” the breadth of which, however, was left undetermined. Attempts to fill this void during the second round of negotiations inGeneva in 1960 (UNCLOS II) proved futile. Thus, domestically, RA 3046 remained unchanged for nearly five decades, save for legislation passed in 1968 (Republic Act No. 5446 [RA 5446]) correcting typographical errors and reserving the drawing of baselines around Sabah inNorth Borneo.

In March 2009, Congress amended RA 3046 by enacting RA 9522, the statute now under scrutiny. The change was prompted by the need to make RA 3046 compliant with the terms of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III),5 which the Philippines ratified on 27 February 1984.6 Among others, UNCLOS III prescribes the water-land ratio, length, and contour of baselines of archipelagic States like the Philippines7 and sets the deadline for the filing of application for the extended continental shelf.8 Complying with these requirements, RA 9522 shortened one baseline, optimized the location of some basepoints around the Philippine archipelago and classified adjacent territories, namely, the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and the Scarborough Shoal, as “regimes of islands” whose islands generate their own applicable maritime zones.

Petitioners, professors of law, law students and a legislator, in their respective capacities as “citizens, taxpayers or x x x legislators,”9 as the case may be, assail the constitutionality of RA 9522 on two principal grounds, namely: (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,10 embodying the terms of the Treaty of Paris11 and ancillary treaties,12 and (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.13

In addition, petitioners contend that RA 9522’s treatment of 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.14 To buttress their argument of territorial diminution, petitioners facially attack RA 9522 for what it excluded and included – its failure to reference either the Treaty of Paris or Sabah and its use of UNCLOS III’s framework of regime of islands to determine the maritime zones of the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal.

Commenting on the petition, respondent officials raised threshold issues questioning (1) the petition’s compliance with the case or controversy requirement for judicial review grounded on petitioners’ alleged lack of locus standi and (2) the propriety of the writs of certiorari and prohibition to assail the constitutionality of RA 9522. On the merits, respondents defended RA 9522 as the country’s compliance with the terms of UNCLOS III, preserving Philippine territory over the KIG or Scarborough Shoal. Respondents add that RA 9522 does not undermine the country’s security, environment and economic interests or relinquish thePhilippines’ claim overSabah.

Respondents also question the normative force, under international law, of petitioners’ assertion that what Spainceded to the United Statesunder the Treaty of Paris were the islands and all the waters found within the boundaries of the rectangular area drawn under the Treaty of Paris.

We left unacted petitioners’ prayer for an injunctive writ.

The Issues

The petition raises the following issues:

1.    Preliminarily –

1.    Whether petitioners possess locus standi to bring this suit; and

2.    Whether the writs of certiorari and prohibition are the proper remedies to assail the constitutionality of RA 9522.

2.    On the merits, whether RA 9522 is unconstitutional.

The Ruling of the Court

On the threshold issues, we hold that (1) petitioners possess locus standi to bring this suit as citizens and (2) the writs of certiorari and prohibition are proper remedies to test the constitutionality of RA 9522. On the merits, we find no basis to declare RA 9522 unconstitutional.

On the Threshold Issues

Petitioners Possess Locus

Standi as Citizens

Petitioners themselves undermine their assertion of locus standi as legislators and taxpayers because the petition alleges neither infringement of legislative prerogative15 nor misuse of public funds,16 occasioned by the passage and implementation of RA 9522. Nonetheless, we recognize petitioners’ locus standi as citizens with constitutionally sufficient interest in the resolution of the merits of the case which undoubtedly raises issues of national significance necessitating urgent resolution. Indeed, owing to the peculiar nature of RA 9522, it is understandably difficult to find other litigants possessing “a more direct and specific interest” to bring the suit, thus satisfying one of the requirements for granting citizenship standing.17

The Writs of Certiorari and Prohibition

Are Proper Remedies to Test

the Constitutionality of Statutes

In praying for the dismissal of the petition on preliminary grounds, respondents seek a strict observance of the offices of the writs of certiorari and prohibition, noting that the writs cannot issue absent any showing of grave abuse of discretion in the exercise of judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial powers on the part of respondents and resulting prejudice on the part of petitioners.18

Respondents’ submission holds true in ordinary civil proceedings. When this Court exercises its constitutional power of judicial review, however, we have, by tradition, viewed the writs of certiorari and prohibition as proper remedial vehicles to test the constitutionality of statutes,19 and indeed, of acts of other branches of government.20 Issues of constitutional import are sometimes crafted out of statutes which, while having no bearing on the personal interests of the petitioners, carry such relevance in the life of this nation that the Court inevitably finds itself constrained to take cognizance of the case and pass upon the issues raised, non-compliance with the letter of procedural rules notwithstanding. The statute sought to be reviewed here is one such law.

RA 9522 is Not Unconstitutional

RA 9522 is a Statutory Tool

to Demarcate the Country’s

Maritime Zones and Continental

Shelf Under UNCLOS III, not to

Delineate Philippine Territory

Petitioners submit that RA 9522 “dismembers a large portion of the national territory”21 because it discards the pre-UNCLOS III demarcation of Philippine territory under the Treaty of Paris and related treaties, successively encoded in the definition of national territory under the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions. Petitioners theorize that this constitutional definition trumps any treaty or statutory provision denying the Philippines sovereign control over waters, beyond the territorial sea recognized at the time of the Treaty of Paris, that Spain supposedly ceded to the United States. Petitioners argue that from the Treaty of Paris’ technical description, Philippine sovereignty over territorial waters extends hundreds of nautical miles around the Philippine archipelago, embracing the rectangular area delineated in the Treaty of Paris.22

Petitioners’ theory fails to persuade us.

UNCLOS III has nothing to do with the acquisition (or loss) of territory. It is a multilateral treaty regulating, among others, 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 that UNCLOS III delimits.23 UNCLOS III was the culmination of decades-long negotiations among United Nations members to codify norms regulating the conduct of States in the world’s oceans and submarine areas, recognizing coastal and archipelagic States’ graduated authority over a limited span of waters and submarine lands along their coasts.

On the other hand, baselines laws such as RA 9522 are enacted by UNCLOS III States parties to mark-out specific basepoints along their coasts from which baselines are drawn, either straight or contoured, to serve as geographic starting points to measure the breadth of the maritime zones and continental shelf. Article 48 of UNCLOS III on archipelagic States like ours could not be any clearer:

Article 48. Measurement of the breadth of the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf. – The breadth of the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf shall be measured from archipelagic baselines drawn in accordance with article 47. (Emphasis supplied)

Thus, baselines laws are nothing but statutory mechanisms for UNCLOS III States parties to delimit with precision the extent of their maritime zones and continental shelves. In turn, this gives notice to the rest of the international community of the scope of the maritime space and submarine areas within which States parties exercise treaty-based rights, namely, the exercise of sovereignty over territorial waters (Article 2), the jurisdiction to enforce customs, fiscal, immigration, and sanitation laws in the contiguous zone (Article 33), and the right to exploit the living and non-living resources in the exclusive economic zone (Article 56) and continental shelf (Article 77).

Even under petitioners’ theory that the Philippine territory embraces the islands and all the waters within the rectangular area delimited in the Treaty of Paris, the baselines of the Philippines would still have to be drawn in accordance with RA 9522 because this is the only way to draw the baselines in conformity with UNCLOS III. The baselines cannot be drawn from the boundaries or other portions of the rectangular area delineated in the Treaty of Paris, but from the “outermost islands and drying reefs of the archipelago.”24

UNCLOS III and its ancillary baselines laws play no role in the acquisition, enlargement or, as petitioners claim, diminution of territory. Under traditional international law typology, States acquire (or conversely, lose) territory through occupation, accretion, cession and prescription,25 not by executing multilateral treaties on the regulations of sea-use rights or enacting statutes to comply with the treaty’s terms to delimit maritime zones and continental shelves. Territorial claims to land features are outside UNCLOS III, and are instead governed by the rules on general international law.26

RA 9522’s Use of the Framework

of Regime of Islands to Determine the

Maritime Zones of the KIG and the

Scarborough Shoal, not Inconsistent

with the Philippines’ Claim of Sovereignty

Over these Areas

Petitioners next submit that RA 9522’s use of UNCLOS III’s regime of islands framework to draw the baselines, and to measure the breadth of the applicable maritime zones of the KIG, “weakens our territorial claim” over that area.27 Petitioners add that the KIG’s (and Scarborough Shoal’s) exclusion from the Philippine archipelagic baselines results in the loss of “about 15,000 square nautical miles of territorial waters,” prejudicing the livelihood of subsistence fishermen.28 A comparison of the configuration of the baselines drawn under RA 3046 and RA 9522 and the extent of maritime space encompassed by each law, coupled with a reading of the text of RA 9522 and its congressional deliberations, vis-à-vis the Philippines’ obligations under UNCLOS III, belie this view.

The configuration of the baselines drawn under RA 3046 and RA 9522 shows that RA 9522 merely followed the basepoints mapped by RA 3046, save for at least nine basepoints that RA 9522 skipped to optimize the location of basepoints and adjust the length of one baseline (and thus comply with UNCLOS III’s limitation on the maximum length of baselines). Under RA 3046, as under RA 9522, the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal lie outside of the baselines drawn around the Philippine archipelago. This undeniable cartographic fact takes the wind out of petitioners’ argument branding RA 9522 as a statutory renunciation of thePhilippines’ claim over the KIG, assuming that baselines are relevant for this purpose.

Petitioners’ assertion of loss of “about 15,000 square nautical miles of territorial waters” under RA 9522 is similarly unfounded both in fact and law. On the contrary, RA 9522, by optimizing the location of basepoints, increased the Philippines’ total maritime space (covering its internal waters, territorial sea and exclusive economic zone) by 145,216 square nautical miles, as shown in the table below:29

  Extent of maritime area using RA 3046, as amended, taking into account the Treaty of Paris’ delimitation (in square nautical miles) Extent of maritime area using RA 9522, taking into account UNCLOS III (in square nautical miles)
Internal or archipelagic waters  166,858  171,435
 TerritorialSea  274,136  32,106
 Exclusive Economic Zone     382,669
TOTAL 440,994 586,210

Thus, as the map below shows, the reach of the exclusive economic zone drawn under RA 9522 even extends way beyond the waters covered by the rectangular demarcation under the Treaty of Paris. Of course, where there are overlapping exclusive economic zones of opposite or adjacent States, there will have to be a delineation of maritime boundaries in accordance with UNCLOS III.30

Further, petitioners’ argument that the KIG now lies outside Philippine territory because the baselines that RA 9522 draws do not enclose the KIG is negated by RA 9522 itself. Section 2 of the law commits to text thePhilippines’ continued claim of sovereignty and jurisdiction over the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal:

SEC. 2. The baselines in the following areas over which the Philippines likewise exercises sovereignty and jurisdiction shall be determined as “Regime of Islands” under the Republic of the Philippines consistent with Article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS):

a) The Kalayaan Island Group as constituted under Presidential Decree No. 1596 and

b) Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal. (Emphasis supplied)

Had Congress in RA 9522 enclosed the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal as part of the Philippine archipelago, adverse legal effects would have ensued. The Philippineswould have committed a breach of two provisions of UNCLOS III. First, Article 47 (3) of UNCLOS III requires that “[t]he drawing of such baselines shall not depart to any appreciable extent from the general configuration of the archipelago.” Second, Article 47 (2) of UNCLOS III requires that “the length of the baselines shall not exceed 100 nautical miles,” save for three per cent (3%) of the total number of baselines which can reach up to 125 nautical miles.31

Although the Philippines has consistently claimed sovereignty over the KIG32 and the Scarborough Shoal for several decades, these outlying areas are located at an appreciable distance from the nearest shoreline of the Philippine archipelago,33 such that any straight baseline loped around them from the nearest basepoint will inevitably “depart to an appreciable extent from the general configuration of the archipelago.”

The principal sponsor of RA 9522 in the Senate, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, took pains to emphasize the foregoing during the Senate deliberations:

What we call the Kalayaan Island Group or what the rest of the world call[] the Spratlys and the Scarborough Shoal are outside our archipelagic baseline because if we put them inside our baselines we might be accused of violating the provision of international law which states: “The drawing of such baseline shall not depart to any appreciable extent from the general configuration of the archipelago.” So sa loob ng ating baseline, dapat magkalapit ang mga islands. Dahil malayo ang Scarborough Shoal, hindi natin masasabing malapit sila sa atin although we are still allowed by international law to claim them as our own.

This is called contested islands outside our configuration. We see that our archipelago is defined by the orange line which [we] call[] archipelagic baseline. Ngayon, tingnan ninyo ang maliit na circle doon sa itaas, that is Scarborough Shoal, itong malaking circle sa ibaba, that is Kalayaan Group or the Spratlys. Malayo na sila sa ating archipelago kaya kung ilihis pa natin ang dating archipelagic baselines para lamang masama itong dalawang circles, hindi na sila magkalapit at baka hindi na tatanggapin ng United Nations because of the rule that it should follow the natural configuration of the archipelago.34 (Emphasis supplied)

Similarly, the length of one baseline that RA 3046 drew exceeded UNCLOS III’s limits. The need to shorten this baseline, and in addition, to optimize the location of basepoints using current maps, became imperative as discussed by respondents:

[T]he amendment of the baselines law was necessary to enable the Philippines to draw the outer limits of its maritime zones including the extended continental shelf in the manner provided by Article 47 of [UNCLOS III]. As defined by R.A. 3046, as amended by R.A. 5446, the baselines suffer from some technical deficiencies, to wit:

1.    The length of the baseline acrossMoro Gulf(from Middle of 3 Rock Awash to Tongquil Point) is 140.06 nautical miles x x x. This exceeds the maximum length allowed under Article 47(2) of the [UNCLOS III], which states that “The length of such baselines shall not exceed 100 nautical miles, except that up to 3 per cent of the total number of baselines enclosing any archipelago may exceed that length, up to a maximum length of 125 nautical miles.”

2.    The selection of basepoints is not optimal. At least 9 basepoints can be skipped or deleted from the baselines system. This will enclose an additional 2,195 nautical miles of water.

3.    Finally, the basepoints were drawn from maps existing in 1968, and not established by geodetic survey methods. Accordingly, some of the points, particularly along the west coasts of Luzon down to Palawan were later found to be located either inland or on water, not on low-water line and drying reefs as prescribed by Article 47.35

Hence, far from surrendering the Philippines’ claim over the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal, Congress’ decision to classify the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal as “‘Regime[s] of Islands’ under the Republic of the Philippines consistent with Article 121”36 of UNCLOS III manifests the Philippine State’s responsible observance of its pacta sunt servanda obligation under UNCLOS III. Under Article 121 of UNCLOS III, any “naturally formed area of land, surrounded by water, which is above water at high tide,” such as portions of the KIG, qualifies under the category of “regime of islands,” whose islands generate their own applicable maritime zones.37

Statutory Claim Over Sabah under

RA 5446 Retained

Petitioners’ argument for the invalidity of RA 9522 for its failure to textualize thePhilippines’ claim over Sabah inNorth Borneois also untenable. Section 2 of RA 5446, which RA 9522 did not repeal, keeps open the door for drawing the baselines ofSabah:

Section 2. The definition of the baselines of the territorial sea of the Philippine Archipelago as provided in this Act is without prejudice to the 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. (Emphasis supplied)

UNCLOS III and RA 9522 not

Incompatible with the Constitution’s

Delineation of Internal Waters

As their final argument against the validity of RA 9522, petitioners contend that the law unconstitutionally “converts” internal waters into archipelagic waters, hence subjecting these waters to the right of innocent and sea lanes passage under UNCLOS III, including overflight. Petitioners extrapolate that these passage rights indubitably expose Philippine internal waters to nuclear and maritime pollution hazards, in violation of the Constitution.38

Whether referred to as Philippine “internal waters” under Article I of the Constitution39 or as “archipelagic waters” under UNCLOS III (Article 49 [1]), thePhilippines exercises sovereignty over the body of water lying landward of the baselines, including the air space over it and the submarine areas underneath. UNCLOS III affirms this:

Article 49. Legal status of archipelagic waters, of the air space over archipelagic waters and of their bed and subsoil. –

1.    The sovereignty of an archipelagic State extends to the waters enclosed by the archipelagic baselines drawn in accordance with article 47, described as archipelagic waters, regardless of their depth or distance from the coast.

2.    This sovereignty extends to the air space over the archipelagic waters, as well as to their bed and subsoil, and the resources contained therein.

x x x x

4. The regime of archipelagic sea lanes passage established in this Part shall not in other respects affect the status of the archipelagic waters, including the sea lanes, or the exercise by the archipelagic State of its sovereignty over such waters and their air space, bed and subsoil, and the resources contained therein. (Emphasis supplied)

The fact of sovereignty, however, does not preclude the operation of municipal and international law norms subjecting the territorial sea or archipelagic waters to necessary, if not marginal, burdens in the interest of maintaining unimpeded, expeditious international navigation, consistent with the international law principle of freedom of navigation. Thus, domestically, the political branches of the Philippine government, in the competent discharge of their constitutional powers, may pass legislation designating routes within the archipelagic waters to regulate innocent and sea lanes passage.40 Indeed, bills drawing nautical highways for sea lanes passage are now pending in Congress.41

In the absence of municipal legislation, international law norms, now codified in UNCLOS III, operate to grant innocent passage rights over the territorial sea or archipelagic waters, subject to the treaty’s limitations and conditions for their exercise.42 Significantly, the right of innocent passage is a customary international law,43 thus automatically incorporated in the corpus of Philippine law.44 No modern State can validly invoke its sovereignty to absolutely forbid innocent passage that is exercised in accordance with customary international law without risking retaliatory measures from the international community.

The fact that for archipelagic States, their archipelagic waters are subject to both the right of innocent passage and sea lanes passage45 does not place them in lesser footing vis-à-vis continental coastal States which are subject, in their territorial sea, to the right of innocent passage and the right of transit passage through international straits. The imposition of these passage rights through archipelagic waters under UNCLOS III was a concession by archipelagic States, in exchange for their right to claim all the waters landward of their baselines, regardless of their depth or distance from the coast, as archipelagic waters subject to their territorial sovereignty. More importantly, the recognition of archipelagic States’ archipelago and the waters enclosed by their baselines as one cohesive entity prevents the treatment of their islands as separate islands under UNCLOS III.46 Separate islands generate their own maritime zones, placing the waters between islands separated by more than 24 nautical miles beyond the States’ territorial sovereignty, subjecting these waters to the rights of other States under UNCLOS III.47

Petitioners’ invocation of non-executory constitutional provisions in Article II (Declaration of Principles and State Policies)48 must also fail. Our present state of jurisprudence considers the provisions in Article II as mere legislative guides, which, absent enabling legislation, “do not embody judicially enforceable constitutional rights x x x.”49 Article II provisions serve as guides in formulating and interpreting implementing legislation, as well as in interpreting executory provisions of the Constitution. Although Oposa v. Factoran50 treated the right to a healthful and balanced ecology under Section 16 of Article II as an exception, the present petition lacks factual basis to substantiate the claimed constitutional violation. The other provisions petitioners cite, relating to the protection of marine wealth (Article XII, Section 2, paragraph 251) and subsistence fishermen (Article XIII, Section 752), are not violated by RA 9522.

In fact, the demarcation of the baselines enables thePhilippinesto delimit its exclusive economic zone, reserving solely to thePhilippinesthe 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.

UNCLOS III favors States with a long coastline like the Philippines. UNCLOS III creates a sui generis maritime space – the exclusive economic zone – in waters previously part of the high seas. UNCLOS III grants new rights to coastal States to exclusively exploit the resources found within this zone up to 200 nautical miles.53 UNCLOS III, however, preserves the traditional freedom of navigation of other States that attached to this zone beyond the territorial sea before UNCLOS III.

RA 9522 and the Philippines’ Maritime Zones

Petitioners hold the view that, based on the permissive text of UNCLOS III, Congress was not bound to pass RA 9522.54 We have looked at the relevant provision of UNCLOS III55 and we find petitioners’ reading plausible. Nevertheless, the prerogative of choosing this option belongs to Congress, not to this Court. Moreover, the luxury of choosing this option comes at a very steep price. Absent an UNCLOS III compliant baselines law, an archipelagic State like the Philippines will find itself devoid of internationally acceptable baselines from where the breadth of its maritime zones and continental shelf is measured. This is recipe for a two-fronted disaster: first, it sends an open invitation to the seafaring powers to freely enter and exploit the resources in the waters and submarine areas around our archipelago; and second, it weakens the country’s case in any international dispute over Philippine maritime space. These are consequences Congress wisely avoided.

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 thePhilippines’ maritime zones and continental shelf. RA 9522 is therefore a most vital step on the part of thePhilippinesin safeguarding its maritime zones, consistent with the Constitution and our national interest.

WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the petition.

SO ORDERED.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.Associate Justice

 

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO

Associate Justice

 

   
ARTURO D. BRIONAssociate Justice

 

DIOSDADO M. PERALTAAssociate Justice

 

 LUCAS P. BERSAMIN

Associate Justice

 

 MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO

Associate Justice

 

ROBERTO A. ABADAssociate Justice

 

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.Associate Justice
JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZAssociate Justice

 

JOSE C. MENDOZAAssociate Justice

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO

Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice

1Entitled “An Act to Amend Certain Provisions of Republic Act No. 3046, as Amended by Republic Act No. 5446, to Define the Archipelagic Baselines of thePhilippines, and for Other Purposes.”

2 Entitled “An Act to Define the Baselines of theTerritorialSea of thePhilippines.”

3 The third “Whereas Clause” of RA 3046 expresses the import of treating thePhilippines as an archipelagic State:

“WHEREAS, all the waters around, between, and connecting the various islands of the Philippine archipelago, irrespective of their width or dimensions, have always been considered as necessary appurtenances of the land territory, forming part of the inland waters of the Philippines.”

4 One of the four conventions framed during the first United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea inGeneva, this treaty, excluding thePhilippines, entered into force on 10 September 1964.

5 UNCLOS III entered into force on 16 November 1994.

6 ThePhilippines signed the treaty on 10 December 1982.

7 Article 47, paragraphs 1-3, provide:

1. An archipelagic State may draw straight archipelagic baselines joining the outermost points of the outermost islands and drying reefs of the archipelago provided that within such baselines are included the main islands and an area in which the ratio of the area of the water to the area of the land, including atolls, is between 1 to 1 and 9 to 1.

2. The length of such baselines shall not exceed 100 nautical miles, except that up to 3 per cent of the total number of baselines enclosing any archipelago may exceed that length, up to a maximum length of 125 nautical miles.

3. The drawing of such baselines shall not depart to any appreciable extent from the general configuration of the archipelago. (Emphasis supplied)

x x x x

8UNCLOS III entered into force on 16 November 1994. The deadline for the filing of application is mandated in Article 4, Annex II: “Where a coastal State intends to establish, in accordance with article 76, the outer limits of its continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles, it shall submit particulars of such limits to the Commission along with supporting scientific and technical data as soon as possible but in any case within 10 years of the entry into force of this Convention for that State. The coastal State shall at the same time give the names of any Commission members who have provided it with scientific and technical advice.” (Underscoring supplied)

In a subsequent meeting, the States parties agreed that for States which became bound by the treaty before 13 May 1999 (such as thePhilippines) the ten-year period will be counted from that date. Thus, RA 9522, which took effect on 27 March 2009, barely met the deadline.

9 Rollo, p. 34.

10Which provides: “The national territory comprises the Philippine archipelago, with all the islands and waters embraced therein, and all other territories over which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction, consisting of its terrestrial, fluvial, and aerial domains, including its territorial sea, the seabed, the subsoil, the insular shelves, and other submarine areas. The waters around, between, and connecting the islands of the archipelago, regardless of their breadth and dimensions, form part of the internal waters of thePhilippines.”

11Entered into between theUnitesStates andSpain on 10 December 1898 following the conclusion of the Spanish-American War. Under the terms of the treaty,Spain ceded to theUnited States “the archipelago known as the Philippine Islands” lying within its technical description.

12 The Treaty ofWashington, betweenSpain and theUnited States (7 November 1900), transferring to theUS the islands of Cagayan, Sulu, and Sibutu and the US-Great Britain Convention (2 January 1930) demarcating boundary lines between thePhilippines andNorth Borneo.

13 Article II, Section 7, Section 8, and Section 16.

14 Allegedly in violation of Article XII, Section 2, paragraph 2 and Article XIII, Section 7 of the Constitution.

15 Kilosbayan, Inc. v. Morato, 320 Phil. 171, 186 (1995).

16 Pascual v. Secretary of Public Works, 110 Phil. 331 (1960); Sanidad v. COMELEC, 165 Phil. 303 (1976).

17Francisco, Jr. v. House of Representatives, 460 Phil. 830, 899 (2003) citing Kilosbayan, Inc. v. Guingona, Jr., G.R. No. 113375, 5 May 1994, 232 SCRA 110, 155-156 (1995) (Feliciano, J., concurring). The two other factors are: “the character of funds or assets involved in the controversy and a clear disregard of constitutional or statutory prohibition.”Id.

18. Rollo, pp. 144-147.

19See e.g. Aquino III v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 189793, 7 April 2010, 617 SCRA 623 (dismissing a petition for certiorari and prohibition assailing the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 9716, not for the impropriety of remedy but for lack of merit); Aldaba v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 188078, 25 January 2010, 611 SCRA 137 (issuing the writ of prohibition to declare unconstitutional Republic Act No. 9591); Macalintal v. COMELEC, 453 Phil. 586 (2003) (issuing the writs of certiorari and prohibition declaring unconstitutional portions of Republic Act No. 9189).

20See e.g. Neri v. Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations, G.R. No. 180643, 25 March 2008, 549 SCRA 77 (granting a writ of certiorari against the Philippine Senate and nullifying the Senate contempt order issued against petitioner).

21 Rollo, p. 31.

22Respondents state in their Comment that petitioners’ theory “has not been accepted or recognized by either the United States or Spain,” the parties to the Treaty of Paris. Respondents add that “no State is known to have supported this proposition.” Rollo, p. 179.

23UNCLOS III belongs to that larger corpus of international law of the sea, which petitioner Magallona himself defined as “a body of treaty rules and customary norms governing the uses of the sea, the exploitation of its resources, and the exercise of jurisdiction over maritime regimes. x x x x” (Merlin M. Magallona, Primer on the Law of the Sea 1 [1997]) (Italicization supplied).

24 Following Article 47 (1) of UNCLOS III which provides:

An archipelagic State may draw straight archipelagic baselines joining the outermost points of the outermost islands and drying reefs of the archipelago provided that within such baselines are included the main islands and an area in which the ratio of the area of the water to the area of the land, including atolls, is between 1 to 1 and 9 to 1. (Emphasis supplied)

25 Under the United Nations Charter, use of force is no longer a valid means of acquiring territory.

26 The last paragraph of the preamble of UNCLOS III states that “matters not regulated by this Convention continue to be governed by the rules and principles of general international law.”

27 Rollo, p. 51.

28Id. at 51-52, 64-66.

29 Based on figures respondents submitted in their Comment (id. at 182).

30 Under Article 74.

31 See note 7.

32 Presidential Decree No. 1596 classifies the KIG as amunicipality ofPalawan.

33 KIG lies around 80 nautical miles west ofPalawan while Scarborough Shoal is around 123 nautical west of Zambales.

34 Journal, Senate 14th Congress 44th Session 1416 (27 January 2009).

35 Rollo, p. 159.

36 Section 2, RA 9522.

37 Article 121 provides: “Regime of islands. —

1. An island is a naturally formed area of land, surrounded by water, which is above water at high tide.

2. Except as provided for in paragraph 3, the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf of an island are determined in accordance with the provisions of this Convention applicable to other land territory.

3. Rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.”

38 Rollo, pp. 56-57, 60-64.

39Paragraph 2, Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution uses the term “archipelagic waters” separately from “territorial sea.” Under UNCLOS III, an archipelagic State may have internal waters – such as those enclosed by closing lines across bays and mouths of rivers. See Article 50, UNCLOS III. Moreover, Article 8 (2) of UNCLOS III provides: “Where the establishment of a straight baseline in accordance with the method set forth in article 7 has the effect of enclosing as internal waters areas which had not previously been considered as such, a right of innocent passage as provided in this Convention shall exist in those waters.” (Emphasis supplied)

40 Mandated under Articles 52 and 53 of UNCLOS III:

Article 52. Right of innocent passage. —

1. Subject to article 53 and without prejudice to article 50, ships of all States enjoy the right of innocent passage through archipelagic waters, in accordance with Part II, section 3.

2. The archipelagic State may, without discrimination in form or in fact among foreign ships, suspend temporarily in specified areas of its archipelagic waters the innocent passage of foreign ships if such suspension is essential for the protection of its security. Such suspension shall take effect only after having been duly published. (Emphasis supplied)

Article 53. Right of archipelagic sea lanes passage. —

1. An archipelagic State may designate sea lanes and air routes thereabove, suitable for the continuous and expeditious passage of foreign ships and aircraft through or over its archipelagic waters and the adjacent territorial sea.

2. All ships and aircraft enjoy the right of archipelagic sea lanes passage in such sea lanes and air routes.

3. Archipelagic sea lanes passage means the exercise in accordance with this Convention of the rights of navigation and overflight in the normal mode solely for the purpose of continuous, expeditious and unobstructed transit between one part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone and another part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone.

4. Such sea lanes and air routes shall traverse the archipelagic waters and the adjacent territorial sea and shall include all normal passage routes used as routes for international navigation or overflight through or over archipelagic waters and, within such routes, so far as ships are concerned, all normal navigational channels, provided that duplication of routes of similar convenience between the same entry and exit points shall not be necessary.

5. Such sea lanes and air routes shall be defined by a series of continuous axis lines from the entry points of passage routes to the exit points. Ships and aircraft in archipelagic sea lanes passage shall not deviate more than 25 nautical miles to either side of such axis lines during passage, provided that such ships and aircraft shall not navigate closer to the coasts than 10 per cent of the distance between the nearest points on islands bordering the sea lane.

6. An archipelagic State which designates sea lanes under this article may also prescribe traffic separation schemes for the safe passage of ships through narrow channels in such sea lanes.

7. An archipelagic State may, when circumstances require, after giving due publicity thereto, substitute other sea lanes or traffic separation schemes for any sea lanes or traffic separation schemes previously designated or prescribed by it.

8. Such sea lanes and traffic separation schemes shall conform to generally accepted international regulations.

9. In designating or substituting sea lanes or prescribing or substituting traffic separation schemes, an archipelagic State shall refer proposals to the competent international organization with a view to their adoption. The organization may adopt only such sea lanes and traffic separation schemes as may be agreed with the archipelagic State, after which the archipelagic State may designate, prescribe or substitute them.

10. The archipelagic State shall clearly indicate the axis of the sea lanes and the traffic separation schemes designated or prescribed by it on charts to which due publicity shall be given.

11. Ships in archipelagic sea lanes passage shall respect applicable sea lanes and traffic separation schemes established in accordance with this article.

12. If an archipelagic State does not designate sea lanes or air routes, the right of archipelagic sea lanes passage may be exercised through the routes normally used for international navigation. (Emphasis supplied)

41Namely, House Bill No. 4153 and Senate Bill No. 2738, identically titled “AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE ARCHIPELAGIC SEA LANES IN THE PHILIPPINE ARCHIPELAGIC WATERS, PRESCRIBING THE RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF FOREIGN SHIPS AND AIRCRAFTS EXERCISING THE RIGHT OF ARCHIPELAGIC SEA LANES PASSAGE THROUGH THE ESTABLISHED ARCHIPELAGIC SEA LANES AND PROVIDING FOR THE ASSOCIATED PROTECTIVE MEASURES THEREIN.”

42 The relevant provision of UNCLOS III provides:

Article 17. Right of innocent passage. —

Subject to this Convention, ships of all States, whether coastal or land-locked, enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea. (Emphasis supplied)

Article 19. Meaning of innocent passage. —

1. Passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State. Such passage shall take place in conformity with this Convention and with other rules of international law.

2. Passage of a foreign ship shall be considered to be prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State if in the territorial sea it engages in any of the following activities:

(a) any threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of the coastal State, or in any other manner in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations;

(b) any exercise or practice with weapons of any kind;

(c) any act aimed at collecting information to the prejudice of the defence or security of the coastal State;

(d) any act of propaganda aimed at affecting the defence or security of the coastal State;

(e) the launching, landing or taking on board of any aircraft;

(f) the launching, landing or taking on board of any military device;

(g) the loading or unloading of any commodity, currency or person contrary to the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations of the coastal State;

(h) any act of willful and serious pollution contrary to this Convention;

(i) any fishing activities;

(j) the carrying out of research or survey activities;

(k) any act aimed at interfering with any systems of communication or any other facilities or installations of the coastal State;

(l) any other activity not having a direct bearing on passage

Article 21. Laws and regulations of the coastal State relating to innocent passage. —

1. The coastal State may adopt laws and regulations, in conformity with the provisions of this Convention and other rules of international law, relating to innocent passage through the territorial sea, in respect of all or any of the following:

(a) the safety of navigation and the regulation of maritime traffic;

(b) the protection of navigational aids and facilities and other facilities or installations;

(c) the protection of cables and pipelines;

(d) the conservation of the living resources of the sea;

(e) the prevention of infringement of the fisheries laws and regulations of the coastal State;

(f) the preservation of the environment of the coastal State and the prevention, reduction and control of pollution thereof;

(g) marine scientific research and hydrographic surveys;

(h) the prevention of infringement of the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations of the coastal State.

2. Such laws and regulations shall not apply to the design, construction, manning or equipment of foreign ships unless they are giving effect to generally accepted international rules or standards.

3. The coastal State shall give due publicity to all such laws and regulations.

4. Foreign ships exercising the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea shall comply with all such laws and regulations and all generally accepted international regulations relating to the prevention of collisions at sea.

43The right of innocent passage through the territorial sea applies only to ships and not to aircrafts (Article 17, UNCLOS III). The right of innocent passage of aircrafts through the sovereign territory of a State arises only under an international agreement. In contrast, the right of innocent passage through archipelagic waters applies to both ships and aircrafts (Article 53 (12), UNCLOS III).

44Following Section 2, Article II of the Constitution: “Section 2. The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations.” (Emphasis supplied)

45“Archipelagic sea lanes passage is essentially the same as transit passage through straits” to which the territorial sea of continental coastal State is subject. R.R. Churabill and A.V. Lowe, The Law of the Sea 127 (1999).

46 Falling under Article 121 of UNCLOS III (see note 37).

47 Within the exclusive economic zone, other States enjoy the following rights under UNCLOS III:

Article 58. Rights and duties of other States in the exclusive economic zone. —

1. In the exclusive economic zone, all States, whether coastal or land-locked, enjoy, subject to the relevant provisions of this Convention, the freedoms referred to in article 87 of navigation and overflight and of the laying of submarine cables and pipelines, and other internationally lawful uses of the sea related to these freedoms, such as those associated with the operation of ships, aircraft and submarine cables and pipelines, and compatible with the other provisions of this Convention.

2. Articles 88 to 115 and other pertinent rules of international law apply to the exclusive economic zone in so far as they are not incompatible with this Part.

x x x x

Beyond the exclusive economic zone, other States enjoy the freedom of the high seas, defined under UNCLOS III as follows:

Article 87. Freedom of the high seas. —

1. The high seas are open to all States, whether coastal or land-locked. Freedom of the high seas is exercised under the conditions laid down by this Convention and by other rules of international law. It comprises, inter alia, both for coastal and land-locked States:

(a) freedom of navigation;

(b) freedom of overflight;

(c) freedom to lay submarine cables and pipelines, subject to Part VI;

(d) freedom to construct artificial islands and other installations permitted under international law, subject to Part VI;

(e) freedom of fishing, subject to the conditions laid down in section 2;

(f) freedom of scientific research, subject to Parts VI and XIII.

2. These freedoms shall be exercised by all States with due regard for the interests of other States in their exercise of the freedom of the high seas, and also with due regard for the rights under this Convention with respect to activities in the Area.

48 See note 13.

49 Kilosbayan, Inc. v. Morato, 316 Phil. 652, 698 (1995); Tañada v. Angara, 338 Phil. 546, 580-581 (1997).

50 G.R. No. 101083, 30 July 1993, 224 SCRA 792.

51 “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”

52“The State shall protect the rights of subsistence fishermen, especially of local communities, to the preferential use of the communal marine and fishing resources, both inland and offshore. It shall provide support to such fishermen through appropriate technology and research, adequate financial, production, and marketing assistance, and other services. The State shall also protect, develop, and conserve such resources. The protection shall extend to offshore fishing grounds of subsistence fishermen against foreign intrusion. Fishworkers shall receive a just share from their labor in the utilization of marine and fishing resources.”

53This can extend up to 350 nautical miles if the coastal State proves its right to claim an extended continental shelf (see UNCLOS III, Article 76, paragraphs 4(a), 5 and 6, in relation to Article 77).

54 Rollo, pp. 67-69.

55Article 47 (1) provides: “An archipelagic State may draw straight archipelagic baselines joining the outermost points of the outermost islands and drying reefs of the archipelago provided that within such baselines are included the main islands and an area in which the ratio of the area of the water to the area of the land, including atolls, is between 1 to 1 and 9 to 1.” (Emphasis supplied)

TRIVIA 0019: WHO IS JUSTICE BIENVENIDO L. REYES?

FROM C.A. WEBSITE:

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE BIENVENIDO L. REYES


Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes was born on July 6, 1947 in Obando, Bulacan to spouses Fidel Reyes and Timotea Lorenzo Reyes. He is married to Teresita Jacinta Reyes with whom he has two sons.

He obtained his Ll.B Degree from San Beda College in 1971 and passed the Bar examinations in the same year with a rating of 81.6%.

He worked as Vice-President for legal and Corporate Affairs of R.C. Silverio Group of Companies from 1975 to 1981. In 1982, he founded a Makati based law firm, Reyes Daway Lim Bernardo Lindo and Rosales. He acted as Chairman, Director, President and/or Corporate Secretary of various private corporations; the Board Secretary of National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation and Chairman of the Board of Celebrity Sports Plaza.

He joined the judiciary sometime in July 1990 as Presiding Judge, RTC of Malabon. He was appointed Associate Justice to the Court of Appeals on August 8, 2000.

Justice Reyes was a recipient of the most outstanding alumnus award in 1998 from his high school Alma Mater, Colegio de San Pascual Baylon; and most outstanding Obandeño in the field of Law in 2003. He was also a finalist in the 1997 Awards for Judicial Excellence.

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FROM www.i-site.ph

REYES, Bienvenido L.

 

Date of Birth: July 6, 1947

Place of Birth: Obando, Bulacan

ADDRESS

Provincial: no data

Metro Manila: #16 South Lawin Ave., Philam Homes, Quezon City

 

Civil Status: married

Spouse: Teresita Jacinta B. Reyes

Position: Staff assistant

Office: Asian Development Bank

 

 

Educational Attainment

ELEMENTARY

Level School Year Graduated
Elementary education no data no data

 

HIGH SCHOOL

Level School Year Graduated
Secondary education no data no data

 

COLLEGE

Degree School Year Graduated
Bachelor of Laws San Beda College 1971

Career History

Position Office Years
Associate justice Court of Appeals up to present
Presiding judge Regional Trial Court, National Capital Judicial Region July 1990-?
Chairman of the board Celebrity Sports Plaza Inc. 1990-1996
Board secretary and vice president National Home Mortgage Finance Corp. 1988-1990
Managing partner Reyes Daway Lim Bernardo Lindo and Rosales Law Offices 1981-1990
Various positions in different corporations Core Finance and Leasing Corp.; Triple One Management and Development Corp.; Intra-Strata Assurance Corp.; Best Security Agency, Inc; Sterling Properties, Inc.; Intent Pacific Management Corp.; Dupels Inc.; Autorama, Inc.; Railwayana, Inc.: 1977-1990
Vice president for corporate and legal affairs R.C. Silverio Group of Companies (Sterling Life Insurance Corp.; Filwriters Guaranty Assurance Corp.; Philippine Underwriters’ Finance Corp.; Silver Lines, Inc.; Philfinance Securities Corp.; Silvertrade, Inc.; and Celebrity Sports Plaza) 1976-1981
Media specialist Department of Public Information, Malacañang 1975
Partner AlbanoReyes and Sansano Law Offices 1972-1974

Affiliations

Organization Position
Philipppine Judges Association Member
Integrated Bar of thePhilippines Member
Rotary Club Member
Knights ofColumbus Member
LexTalionisFraternitas-SanBedaCollegeof Law Member
Capitol Hills Golf and Country Club Member
Celebrity Sports Plaza Inc. Member

 

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FROM MALAYA BUSINESS INSIGHT

Incidental Intelligence

PNoy’s buddy

Justice Bienvenido Reyes of the Court of Appeals will go to the Supreme Court to fill one of the two vacancies to be left this month by the retirement of Associate Justices Conchita Carpio Morales and Antonio Eduardo Nachura. In a straw vote by the justices of the Supreme Court, Reyes got 10. That should normally be considered as a sign of respect for the integrity and competence of Reyes.

The candidates in the top four in the straw votes are also all from the Court of Appeals. They are justices Jose Reyes, Noel Tijam and Magdangal de Leon. Based on academic excellence, the most qualified should be Estela Perlas Bernabe.

Ms. Bernabe was salutatorian of the Ateneo law class of 1976. But she is not as close to the President as Justice Bienvenido Reyes.

Reyes’ background

Many lawyers say that Justice Bienvenido Reyes is eminently qualified for the Supreme Court. He is possessed with honor and integrity and is well-lettered in the law. Setting all that aside, Justice Reyes is said to be a partner of the security agency of then citizen Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino when his mother was president.

That is as good a qualification as any, considering the particular preference of the President to pick friends to serve his government.

Justice Reyes is an old friend of Len Oreta, husband of former senator Teresa Aquino Oreta, sister of the late Sen. Benigno Aquino.

We have to see the friendship of Justice Reyes with the family of President Aquino.

The main point to consider is he got 10 votes from the members of the Supreme Court.

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