ConstiCasesArt12.pdf - DECISION Article I NATIONAL TERRITORY Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R No 187167 PROF MERLIN M

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Unformatted text preview: DECISION Article I: NATIONAL TERRITORY Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R No. 187167 August 16, 2011 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, Petitioners, 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,Respondents. CARPIO, J.: The Case This original action for the writs of certiorari and prohibition assails the 1 constitutionality of Republic Act No. 9522 (RA 9522) adjusting the country’s archipelagic baselines and classifying the baseline regime of nearby territories. The Antecedents 2 In 1961, Congress passed Republic Act No. 3046 (RA 3046) demarcating 3 the maritime baselines of the Philippines as an archipelagic State. This law followed the framing of the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the 4 Contiguous Zone in 1958 (UNCLOS I), 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 in Geneva 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 in North 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 5 on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), which the Philippines ratified on 27 6 February 1984. Among others, UNCLOS III prescribes the water-land ratio, length, and contour of baselines of archipelagic States like the 7 Philippines and sets the deadline for the filing of application for the 8 extended continental shelf. 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 9 respective capacities as "citizens, taxpayers or x x x legislators," 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 10 Article 1 of the 1987 Constitution, embodying the terms of the Treaty of 11 12 Paris and ancillary treaties, 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 13 of relevant constitutional provisions. 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 14 also prejudices the livelihood of subsistence fishermen. 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 the Philippines’ claim over Sabah. Respondents also question the normative force, under international law, of petitioners’ assertion that what Spain ceded to the United States under 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 15 16 of legislative prerogative nor misuse of public funds, 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, 17 thus satisfying one of the requirements for granting citizenship standing. 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 18 the part of petitioners. 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 19 proper remedial vehicles to test the constitutionality of statutes, and 20 indeed, of acts of other branches of government. 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, noncompliance 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 21 national territory" 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 22 the rectangular area delineated in the Treaty of Paris. 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 23 continental shelves that UNCLOS III delimits. 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 nonliving 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 24 the archipelago." 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) 25 territory through occupation, accretion, cession and prescription, 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 26 international law. 27 over that area. 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 28 livelihood of subsistence fishermen. 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.1avvphi1 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 the Philippines’ 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 29 square nautical miles, as shown in the table below: 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" 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 Territorial Sea 274,136 32,106 Exclusive Economic Zone TOTAL 382,669 440,994 586,210 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 30 with UNCLOS III. 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 the Philippines’ 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 Philippines would 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 31 can reach up to 125 nautical miles. Although the Philippines has consistently claimed sovereignty over the 32 KIG and the Scarborough Shoal for several decades, these outlying areas are located at an appreciable distance from the nearest shoreline of the 33 Philippine archipelago, 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 DefensorSantiago, 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 34 configuration of the archipelago. (Emphasis supplied) Similarly, the length of one baseline that RA 3046 drew exceeded UNCLOS III’s limits.1avvphi1 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 across Moro 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 mile...
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