In this case the us respondents were sued in their

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In this case, the US respondents were sued in their official capacity as commanding officers of the US Navy who had control and supervision over the USS Guardian and its crew. The alleged act or omission resulting in the unfortunate grounding of the USS Guardian on the TRNP was committed while they were performing official military duties. Considering that the satisfaction of a judgment against said officials will require remedial actions and appropriation of funds by the US government, the suit is deemed to be one against the US itself. The principle of State immunity therefore bars the exercise of jurisdiction by this Court over the persons of respondents Swift, Rice and Robling. During the deliberations, Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio took the position that the conduct of the US in this case, when its warship entered a restricted area in violation of R.A. No. 10067 and caused damage to the TRNP reef system, brings the matter within the ambit of Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the
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POLITICAL LAW CASE DIGESTS 314 Sea (UNCLOS). He explained that while historically, warships enjoy sovereign immunity from suit as extensions of their flag State, Art. 31 of the UNCLOS creates an exception to this rule in cases where they fail to comply with the rules and regulations of the coastal State regarding passage through the latter's internal waters and the territorial sea. According to Justice Carpio, although the US to date has not ratified the UNCLOS, as a matter of long-standing policy the US considers itself bound by customary international rules on the "traditional uses of the oceans" as codified in UNCLOS, as can be gleaned from previous declarations by former Presidents Reagan and Clinton, and the US judiciary in the case of United States v. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Ltd. The international law of the sea is generally defined as "a body of treaty rules arid customary norms governing the uses of the sea, the exploitation of its resources, and the exercise of jurisdiction over maritime regimes. It is a branch of public international law, regulating the relations of states with respect to the uses of the oceans."28 The UNCLOS is a multilateral treaty which was opened for signature on December 10, 1982 at Montego Bay, Jamaica. It was ratified by the Philippines in 1984 but came into force on November 16, 1994 upon the submission of the 60th ratification. The UNCLOS is a product of international negotiation that seeks to balance State sovereignty (mare clausum) and the principle of freedom of the high seas (mare liberum). The freedom to use the world's marine waters is one of the oldest customary principles of international law. The UNCLOS gives to the coastal State sovereign rights in varying degrees over the different zones of the sea which are: 1) internal waters, 2) territorial sea, 3) contiguous zone, 4) exclusive economic zone, and 5) the high seas. It also gives coastal States more or less jurisdiction over foreign vessels depending on where the vessel is located.
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