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Digest Author: Abata, Marivir G.

Magallona vs. Ermita


G.R. No. 187167

Petition: certiorari and prohibition assailing constitutionality of RA 9522


Petitioner: Merlin Magallona, law professors, and law students
Respondent: Hon. Eduardo Ermita, Executive Secretary
Ponente: Carpio, J.
Date: August 16, 2011

Facts

In 1961, the Congress passed RA 3046 which demarcates the maritime baselines of the
Philippines to conform with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) I
which codified the sovereign right of States over their territorial sea. RA 5446 was passed only
to correct the typographical errors and reserved the drawing of the baselines of Sabah. In 2009,
Congress amended RA 3046 by enacting RA 9522 to conform with UNCLOS III which
prescribed the water-land ratio, length and contour of baselines of archipelagic states.The
enactment of RA 9522 shortened one baseline, optimized basepoints around the Philippines, and
classified the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and Scarborough Shoal as regimes of islands
(islands which generate their own applicable maritime zones).

The petitioners held that the RA 9522 (a) violates Art. I of 1987 Constitution as it reduces the
Philippine Maritime territories and reach of its sovereign; (b) violates Art II, Sec. 7, 8, 16 of
1987 Constitution as it opens the Philippine waters to maritime passage by sea vessels and
aircrafts which in turn undermines sovereignty and national security of the country; and (c) the
classification of regime of islands not only results to the loss of maritime area and the livelihood
of fishermen but also weakens the countrys claim over Sabah. The respondents stated that RA
9522 does not violate the constitution nor does it compromise in any way the security of the
country or relinquish the claim over Sabah.

Issues

The SC summarized the petitioners and respondents arguments into the ff. issues:

A. Preliminary
i. Whether or not the petitioners have locus standi
ii. Whether or not the writs of certiorari and prohibition are proper remedies to assail
RA 9522s constitutionality
B. On the merits, whether or not RA 9522 is unconstitutional

Held

A.
i. YES, petitioners have standing.
Digest Author: Abata, Marivir G.

The petitioners have standing as citizens of the country as the case raises
nationally significant issues. RA 9522s subject is peculiar, and it would be
difficult to find other litigants with a more direct and specific interest in the
subject.

ii. YES, they are proper remedies.


Respondents are correct in normal civil cases but in cases involving judicial
review, writs of certiorari and prohibition are proper remedies to test
constitutionality of statues and acts of government because the relevance of the
issue compels SC to waive procedural roadblocks (such as non-compliance of
procedural rules) and take cognizance of the case.

B. NO, it is not unconstitutional.

The RA 9522 is a statutory rule to demarcate the countrys maritime zones and continental
shelf under UNCLOS III, not to delineate Philippine Territory. It has nothing to do with
territory, it only regulates the sea-use rights of the country by determining the basepoints and
breadth of maritime zones and continental shelf.

RA 9522s use of framework of Regime of Islands to determine maritime zones of KIG and
Scarborough Shoal is not inconsistent with Philippines claim of sovereignty over these
areas
That RA 9522 results to loss of territorial waters is UNFOUNDED in both fact and law as it
actually increases total maritime space and Exclusive Economic Zone actually extends beyond
rectangular area of Treaty of Paris. Art 2 of RA 9522 itself states the Philippines continued
claim and sovereignty over KIG and Scarborough Shoal.

UNCLOS III and RA 9522 are not incompatible with Constitutions Delineation of Internal
Waters. Concerning the body of water lying landward of baselines regardless of how its
referred to (internal waters in Constitution, archipelagic waters in UNCLOS III), Philippines still
has sovereignty over it, including airspace above and submarine underneath (this was
AFFIRMED by UNCLOS III). HOWEVER, sovereignty does not mean we are exempt from
municipal/international law. Innocent passage rights are a customary international law, therefore
it is automatically incorporated in Philippine Law.

The petition was dismissed.