By Jewel Shaira A. Cantilero, Laisha Marie V. Dignos, Michael Francis T. Javellana and Nicole R. Lopez



Upholding the 1987 Constitution, it expressly states, “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.”

But does this constitutional definition of the country’s territory sufficiently warrant the exercise of sovereignty over its terrestrial, fluvial, and aerial domains? How far will our constitutional rights and our relating laws protect the territories of the country from among other states?

In the emergence of the territorial disputes of the Philippines with its neighboring countries, a deep-seated reliance on the power of our domestic and international territorial laws shall be the key in the settlement of these issues among states.

Furthermore, this study will determine the territorial rights of the Philippines over its neighboring countries as provided by international laws and by other relating domestic laws. With the question at hand, where do we stand in this turmoil of territorial claims?


This study on the Philippine limits and dispute is conducted for the purpose of achieving the following objectives:

  1. To determine the territorial rights of the Philippines in terms of domestic and international law;
  2. To determine the territorial disputes of the Philippines; and
  3. To give analysis and recommendations on the territorial issues of the Philippines.


The study on the Philippine limits and dispute is descriptive in nature. Descriptive research is “aimed at casting light on current issues or problems through a process of data collection that enables them to describe the situation more completely than was possible without employing this method.”[1] Descriptive research is most applicable because researchers applied prior studies and articles to come up with conclusions and analyzation, researchers sought to investigate the territorial dispute and rights of the Philippines, they conducted an interview with a number of people who has an experience and knowledgeable regarding the topic, and to arrive with recommendations in terms of the territorial issues of the Philippines.

The study mainly focuses on reviewing the territorial dispute of the Philippines with its neighboring countries. The researchers selected few knowledgeable participants to answer the prepared questions in order to gather sufficient information and opinions. The primary objective of the interview is to help researchers to come up with great recommendations for the improvement of the issue.


  1. Territorial Rights of the Philippines

“A state, as defined, is a community of persons, more or less numerous, permanently occupying a definite portion of territory independent of external control, and possessing a government to which a great body of inhabitants render habitual obedience.”[2] Simply stated, for a state to exist, it must consist the elements of people, government, sovereignty, and TERRITORY.

TERRITORY. As aforesaid, a state must have a “definite portion of territory independent of external control.” But what constitutes the Philippine territory?

The well-entrenched doctrine in the Law of the Sea is that “land dominates the sea.” Simply put, all maritime zones or entitlements are measured from the coast of continental land, island or rock above water at high tide (Articles 3, 57 & 76, UNCLOS). As stated in the North Sea Continental

Shelf Cases (Germany v. Denmark, Germany v. Netherlands), “the land is the legal source of the power which a State may exercise over territorial extensions to seaward.” [3]

The International Court of Justice has stated, “the attribution of maritime areas to the territory of a State, which, by its nature, is destined to be permanent, is a legal process based solely on the possession by the territory concerned of a coastline.” The land territory and the maritime zone are therefore in a reciprocal relationship: if there is (coastal) land territory then there is the right to have maritime zones, and, conversely, there is no right to maritime zones without land territory.[4]

Consequently, although frontier disputes do not detract from the sovereignty or independence of a particular state, it is inherent in statehood that there should be a core territory that is subject to the effective control of the authorities of the state. Additional territory may be acquired by states through cession from other states; by the occupation of territory that is terra nullius (Latin: “the land of no one”)—i.e., land not under the sovereignty or control of any other state or socially or politically organized grouping; or by prescription, where a state acquires territory through a continued period of uncontested sovereignty.[5]

Under the UN Charter, sovereign title to territory cannot be acquired purely and simply by the use of force. Express or implied consent is required under international law for recognition of territory acquired by force, whether or not the use of force was legal. When states are created from the dissolution or dismemberment of existing countries, it is presumed that the frontiers of the new states will conform to the boundaries of prior internal administrative divisions. This doctrine, known as uti possidetis (Latin: “as you possess”), was established to ensure the stability of newly independent states whose colonial boundaries were often drawn arbitrarily. [5]

However, as stated in Magallona v. Ermita case, it should be noted that United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (or UNCLOS III) and its ancillary baselines laws play no role in the acquisition, enlargement, or diminution of territory. Under traditional international law typology, States acquire (or conversely, lose) 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 international law.[6]

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS

“The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (or UNCLOS) is the constitution for the oceans and seas of our planet.”[7]

 The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea Treaty, is the international agreement that resulted from the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), which took place between 1973 and 1982.[8] The Convention concluded on 10 December 1982 and UNCLOS came into operation on 16 November 1994. There are at least 167 states and the European Union that confirmed or ratified UNCLOS including all the states involved in the South China Sea dispute like Philippines and China.[9]

The Law of the Sea Convention defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world’s oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.[10] It governs maritime disputes among member states, with the aid of its own structure of resolving territorial issues. Also, it introduces new concepts of exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf (ECS), and institutionalized the common heritage of mankind.[11]

Figure 1

 (See Figure 1. Maritime zones under UNCLOS.)

Consequently, UNCLOS III, with the developments made in codifying the breadth of territorial sea, favors States with a long coastline like the Philippines. It essentially creates a sui generis maritime space – the exclusive economic zone – in waters previously part of the high seas, and it grants new rights to coastal States to exclusively exploit the resources found within this zone up to 200 nautical miles.[11]

Figure 2

(See Figure 2. Philippine maritime entitlements.)

Exclusive Economic Zone OR EEZ

The exclusive economic zone (or EEZ) is an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea, subject to the specific legal regime established in Part V of UNCLOS, under which the rights and jurisdiction of the coastal State and the rights and freedoms of other States are governed by the relevant provisions of the Convention.[12]

In the exclusive economic zone, the coastal State has:

  1. sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, of the waters superjacent to the seabed and of the seabed and its subsoil, and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the production of energy from the water, currents and winds;
  2. jurisdiction as provided for in the relevant provisions of the Convention with regard to:
  • the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations and structures;
  • marine scientific research;
  • the protection and preservation of the marine environment; and
  1. other rights and duties provided for in the Convention.[12]

This exclusive economic zone shall not extend 200 NM measured from the baselines or 188 NM measured from the outer limit of the 12 NM territorial sea (see Figure 1). The EEZ is a legal concept based on distance from the baselines and does not depend on the geomorphology of the continental shelf.[13]

Moreover, continental land, islands, and rocks above water at high tide are entitled to a territorial sea of 12 NM measured from baselines along the coast (Article 3, UNCLOS). In addition to this, continental land and islands capable of human habitation or economic life of their own are entitled to a 200 NM EEZ measured from the baselines along the coast (or 188 NM measured from the outer limit of the territorial sea).

Island, Rock, and Low Tide Elevation

Figure 3

(See Figure 3. Geologic features in the sea.)

Figure 4

 (See Figure 4. Sambawan Island)

An island is defined as an area of land “naturally created,” surrounded by water and at high tide above water (Article 121, UNCLOS). Only a territorial sea of 12 NM (Article 121, UNCLOS) is entitled to rocks that are not capable of human habitation or economic life of their own. Very small islands which include emergent land features on atolls are known as islets. A key or cay is another call for a small island or islet. An island in a river or lake may additionally be referred to as an eyot. [14]

Figure 5

(See Figure 5. Rock above water at high tide and its 12 NM territorial sea.)

A rock above water at high tide, even if it protrudes only a few inches above the water, is entitled to a 12 NM territorial sea around it and a territorial airspace above the rock and the territorial sea. The surface area of this 12 NM territorial is 155,165 hectares of maritime space, more than twice the land area of Metro Manila of 63,000 hectares. All the living and non-living resources within the territorial sea belong to the state that has sovereignty over such tiny rock.[15]

A low-tide elevation (LTE) is an evidently formed vicinity of land (rock, reef, atoll, or sandbar) surrounded by using water, above water at low tide however submerged at high tide. An LTE is a part of the continental shelf, and isn’t always land or territory, and consequently has no territorial sea, territorial airspace or any maritime zone (Article 13, UNCLOS). An LTE beyond the territorial sea isn’t subject to appropriation or sovereignty by any state.[15]

 Baselines of the Philippines

Figure 6

 (See Figure 6. Map included in Magallona v. Ermita)

The baselines of the Philippines are the set of geodesic lines absolutely encircling the main Philippine archipelago from where the maritime entitlements of the country are measured from. It was established in 1961 by an act of the Congress of the Philippines and further amended in April 2009 to optimize and conform it to UNCLOS. A total of 101 basepoints providing for 100 baselines had been recognized underneath Republic Act 9522. This act declares Philippines as an archipelagic state and uses the straight baselines method in delineating the national territory; thus, foregoing the Treaty of Paris lines. This became the most important step in safeguarding the country’s maritime zones, consistent with its Constitution and national interest.

As ruled in Magallona v. Ermita case, “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 the Philippines’ maritime zones and continental shelf.”[16]

Territorial Disputes of the Philippines

With the established territorial and maritime rights acquired from international laws, the exercise of such rights now led to disputes on the assertion of each State to claim sovereignty over their territories.

Permanent Court of Arbitration or PCA

Permanent Court of Arbitration or PCA was established by the Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, concluded at The Hague in 1899 during the first Hague Peace Conference. The Conference had been convened at the initiative of Czar Nicolas II of Russia “with the object of seeking the most objective means of ensuring to all peoples the benefits of a real and lasting peace, and above all, of limiting the progressive development of existing armaments.”

The PCA was the first permanent intergovernmental organization to provide a forum for the resolution of international disputes through arbitration and other peaceful means. Among the aims of the Conference had been the strengthening of systems of international dispute resolution—especially international arbitration. This movement toward arbitration as a means of international dispute resolution was continued in 1899, and the most concrete achievement of the 1899 Conference was the establishment of the PCA as the first global mechanism for the settlement of disputes between states. Article 16 of the 1899 Convention recognized that “in questions of a legal nature, and especially in the interpretation or application of International Conventions” arbitration is the “most effective, and at the same time the most equitable, means of settling disputes which diplomacy has failed to settle”.

Nine-Dashed Line Claim of China[17]

In December 1947, the Kuomintang Government of China adopted the nine-dashed line claim. The claim was embodied in a map, entitled “Location Map of the South Sea Islands”, released within China in February 1948, with eleven dashes forming a broken U-shaped line covering almost the entire South China Sea.

The title of the map indicates a claim to islands, not the sea. China did not explain the meaning or basis of the eleven dashes, nor did China give the coordinates of the eleven dashes. China claimed the islands enclosed by the eleven dashes, namely Dongsha Islands (Pratas), Xisha Islands (Paracels), Zhongsha Island (Macclesfield Bank), and Nansha Islands (Spratlys). China was silent on any claim to the surrounding waters.

Significantly, Huangyan Island (Scarborough Shoal), or its previous name Min’zhu, is not mentioned in the map. Thus, Scarborough Shoal is not one of the islands that China claimed under its 1947 eleven-dashed line map. Further, Zhongsha Island (Macclesfield Bank) is not an island because it is fully submerged, its highest peak being 9.2 meters below sea level.

In 1950, China, under communist rule, announced the removal of two dashes in the Gulf of Tonkin without any explanation. The line became known as the nine-dashed line.

China’s nine-dashed line claim, through which China is aggressively asserting “indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters” and “sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the relevant waters as well as the seabed and subsoil” enclosed by the dashes, is the main driver of the South China Sea dispute.[17]

Philippines Arbitration Case with China

On July 12, 2016, PCA ruled in favor of the Philippines regarding the arbitration case over South China Sea. It was decided that Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights over West Philippine Sea and that China’s “nine-dash line” is invalid. China is pushing its historical rights which is clearly a violation of UNCLOS. China was absent throughout the proceedings, refusing to recognize the case. The tribunal declared that certain sea areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines because those areas are not overlapped by any possible entitlement of China.

China’s nine-dashed line claim is bereft of basis under international law. The well-entrenched doctrine in international law is that “land dominates the sea,” and all maritime entitlements must be measured from baselines along the coast of continental land, island or rock above water at high tide. China’s nine-dashed line does not comply with this basic requirement of UNCLOS.[17]

The paramount national interest of the Philippines in the South China Sea is to protect its EEZ from Chinese encroachment. This is why the Philippines filed the arbitration case against China. Unable to match China’s military might, the Philippines brought China to an UNCLOS tribunal, where the legality of China’s encroachment could be resolved peacefully by arbitration solely in accordance with the Law of the Sea. The UNCLOS tribunal is a forum where warships, warplanes and nuclear bombs do not count.

Figure 8

(See Figure 8. Waters claimed by China)

Deception of China’s Historic Rights Claim

Under UNCLOS, a state can only invoke “historic” rights to claim territorial sea or internal waters in deeply indented bays or gulfs along the coast of the mainland, like in the Gulf of Fonseca [18] (Article 10, UNCLOS). Historic rights or historic title cannot be invoked to claim EEZs or ECSs. The creation of the EEZ under Article 56 of UNCLOS with “sovereign rights,” which means supreme rights, accorded to the adjacent coastal state, extinguished all historic rights or claims by other states to the EEZ of a coastal state. The word “exclusive” in the term EEZ means the economic exploitation of the zone is exclusive to the adjacent coastal state. No one may exploit the natural resources in the EEZ without the express consent of the coastal state [Article 77(3), UNCLOS].

China made the following formal declaration upon its ratification of UNCLOS on 7 June 1996: “In accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the People’s Republic of China shall enjoy sovereign rights and jurisdiction over an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles and the continental shelf.”[19[ Upon ratification, China did not claim any historic rights or jurisdiction beyond its entitlements under UNCLOS. In fact, China expressly aligned its declared maritime rights in accordance with what UNCLOS prescribed for the EEZ and the continental shelf. The first time that a Chinese law mentioned “historical rights” in relation to China’s maritime claims was in China’s 1998 Act on the EEZ and Continental Shelf, after China signed in 1982 and ratified in 1996 UNCLOS. Article 14 of the 1998 Act enigmatically states: “No provision of this Law can prejudice historical rights of the People’s Republic of China.” There was no explanation of the nature, basis or scope of these “historical rights.”[20]

Scarborough Shoal

Figure 8

 (See Figure 8. Scarborough Shoal)

A shoal is a natural submerged ridge, bank, or bar that consists of, or is covered by, sand or other unconsolidated material, and rises from the bed of a body of water to near the surface. Often it refers to those submerged ridges, banks, or bars that rises near enough to the surface of a body of water as to constitute a hazard to navigation. Shoals are also known as sandbanks, sandbars, or gravel bars. Two or more shoals that are either separated by shared troughs or interconnected by means of past or present sedimentary and hydrographic strategies are referred to as a shoal complex.[21] [22]

One of the territorial disagreements between China and Philippines is with regard to Scarborough Shoal. The sea qualifications of rocks above water at elevated tide, as Scarborough Shoal, can be autonomously decided without choosing which state practices power over the rocks. One doesn’t have to realize which state has power over such shakes to finish up with conviction that such shakes are not fit for continuing human home or financial existence of their own. [23]

Figure 9 

(See Figure 9. The Philippine flag is planted on a part of Scarborough Shoal.)

Not a solitary piece of sod develops on the rocks of Scarborough Shoal, and not a solitary drop of crisp water can be pressed from those rocks. Scarborough Shoal, whose greatest rock is 1.2 meters above water at elevated tide, can create just a 12 NM regional ocean, paying little mind to which state has sway over the shore.[23]

Spratly’s Island

Figure 10

(See Figure 10. Spratly’s Island)

The Spratly Islands is also a contested archipelago in the South China Sea. Made out of islands, islets and cays and in excess of 100 reefs, now and then assembled in submerged old atolls, the archipelago lies off the banks of the Philippines, Malaysia, and southern Vietnam. Named after the nineteenth century British whaling chief Richard Spratly who located Spratly Island in 1843, the islands contain under 2 km2 (490 sections of land) of normally happening area zone spread over a zone of more than 425,000 km2 (164,000 sq mi).[24]

The Spratlys are one of the significant archipelagos in the South China Sea which confuse administration and financial matters in this piece of Southeast Asia because of their area in key transportation paths. The islands have no indigenous occupants, yet offer rich angling grounds and may contain critical oil and gaseous petrol reserves, and in that capacity are imperative to the inquirers in their endeavors to build up worldwide limits. A portion of the islands have non-military personnel settlements, however of the around 45 islands, cays, reefs and shores that are involved, all contain structures that are involved by military powers from Malaysia, Taiwan (ROC), China (PRC), the Philippines and Vietnam. Moreover, Brunei has guaranteed a selective financial zone in the southeastern piece of the Spratlys, which incorporates the uninhabited Louisa Reef. [25] [26]

China has recovered all the seven reefs it possesses in the Spratlys — Fiery Cross Reef, Johnson South Reef, Gaven Reef, Cuarteron Reef, McKennan Reef, Mischief Reef, and Subi Reef. China’s recoveries abuse UNCLOS as well as the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration of Conduct, which expresses that the gatherings embrace to practice patience, including “ceasing from … possessing by and by uninhabited islands, reefs, shores, cays and different highlights”. [27]

As far as national pride, these islands are of specific significance to nations right now asserting all or part of the islands (Vietnam, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei) because of the chronicled case these nations have over the domain. These nations have a long marine history, be that as it may, it has been enormously hard to state which nation previously occupied or utilized these islands. [28]

The nation that winds up guaranteeing regional responsibility for Spratly Islands likewise oversees a large portion of the South China Sea. This is on the grounds that their regional seabeds would broaden not from their territory coastline yet from the islands’ coastline. For example in the guide underneath, China’s case over the islands would cause their ocean region to stretch out the whole distance south to Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia (Orange line portion), making the “Theoretical EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) limit from waterfront states” some portion of China’s regional waters. This would not just make it colossally difficult for Southeast Asians to challenge Chinese maritime tasks later on, however would likewise confine their financial exercises (angling, oil and gas investigation and creation, shipping) in the “EEZ”. [28]

  • Analysis and Recommendations on Philippine Territorial Disputes

After careful analysis, the researchers determined that the best way to resolve the territorial issues of the Philippines is to separate the territorial and maritime issues. Based on the fundamental principle of the law of the sea, “land dominates the sea”. This requires that sovereignty over the land must first be decided before maritime entitlements can be determined.  The common error of the ordinary citizen is to take the issues as one and that is why it is important to separate them.   There are different laws that governs the two issues. It is crucial to settle first the territorial issues to be used as basis in finding solutions for maritime issues.

Another important step in solving the issues is to separate the settled and the unsettled issues.  The issues settled in the Hague ruling are the following; the violation of China on the exclusive right of the Philippines to its EEZ,  violation of China of its obligation not to aggravate the dispute during the arbitration, and  violation of China of its obligation to observe maritime safety when Chinese coast guard vessels crossed the path of Philippine  vessels at high speed. The Arbitral Tribunal upheld the Philippine position on these issues. Unsettled issues are the issues with Vietnam, Malaysia, and the overlap of Luzon, Taiwan, and China. There was no agreement made by the disputant states on the joint development of the resources in any overlapping maritime zone.

Lastly, it is important to identify and separate the 3 main issues of the Philippines, which are Spratlys, Scarborough Shoal, and Sabah.  The issues involve different states, geologic features, and laws governing the conflict. It is important to separate these because they involve different solutions.  By doing this the Philippines has a better chance in getting back the islands and territories that are rightfully ours. It is a right decision for the Philippines to upheld the governing laws regarding the issues involved and bring it forward to a court that is internationally recognized.


In conclusion, the group was able to achieve the objectives set in conducting this study. The researchers were able to define the territorial rights of the Philippines based on the general international law and maritime rights based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS.  Consequently, based from these rights, the researchers were able to determine the territorial disputes of the Philippines among other States. Furthermore, an analysis was conducted based on territorial issues at hand and recommendations were given.

Hence, this research has enlightened the group with the issues concerning the Philippine territory and with possible solutions the government may use in exercising sovereignty over the country’s territory.  With this, the group is able to see that territorial disputes are not impossible to solve.  It is a process. By doing it one at a time and by separating the issues that require different solutions, the dispute can be resolved.  The country might seem helpless because of the lack of resources in fighting off the more powerful states but by resorting to the power of our international laws—to legal remedies—these territorial disputes will be solved.



[1] Fox, W. & Bayat, M.S. (2007) “A Guide to Managing Research” Juta Publications, p.45

[2] Nachura Reviewer, page 39.

[3] “The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea” by Antonio Carpio, page 19.

[4] “The land dominates the sea (dominates the land, dominates the sea)” by Irini Papanicolopulu,

[5] Augustyn, Adam, The responsibilities of states, November 13, 2019,

[6] Magallona v. Ermita G.R. 187167 (2011)

[7] “The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea” by Antonio Carpio, page 19.

[8] “The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (A historical perspective)”. United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea. Retrieved 30 April 2009.

[9] Carpio, Antonio, 2017 p 19

[10] Institute of Maritime and Ocean Affairs, www.

[11] Carpio, Antonio T. (2017) p 19

[12] United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea – Part V,

[13] Carpio, Antonio T. (2017). P 20

[14] Augustyn, Adam, The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Island geography”,  Feb 28, 2019,\

[15] Carpio, Antonio T. (2017). P 22

[16] Magallona v Ermita,

[17] Carpio, Antonio, 2017, p 26

[18] Land, Island and Maritime Frontier Dispute (El Sal./Hond.), Judgment, 1992 I.C.J. 351,  409-20 (Sept. 11),

[19] UN Office of Legal Affairs, Treaty Section, Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General, at 450, 1, U.N. Doc. ST/LEG/SER.E/26 (Apr. 1, 2009).

[20] Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Exclusive Economic Zone and

the Continental Shelf, art. 14 (1998),


[21] D Rutecki, E Nestler, T Dellapenna, and A Pembroke, 2014. Understanding the Habitat Value and Function of Shoal/Ridge/Trough Complexes to Fish and Fisheries on the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf. Draft Literature Synthesis for the U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Contract # M12PS00031. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, U.S. Department of the Interior. 116 pp.

[22] Neuendorf, K.K.E., J.P. Mehl, Jr., and J.A. Jackson, eds. (2005) Glossary of Geology (5th ed.). Alexandria, Virginia, American Geological Institute. 779 pp. ISBN 0-922152-76-4

[23] Carpio, Antonio, 2017 p 47

[24] Claudius Madrolle (1939). “La question de Hai-nan et des Paracels” [The question of Hai-nan and Paracel]. Politique étrangère (in French). 4 (3): 302–312. doi:10.3406/polit.1939.5631

[25] Owen, N. A. and C. H. Schofield, 2012, Disputed South China Sea hydrocarbons in perspective. Marine Policy. vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 809–822.

 [26] “Q&A: South China Sea dispute”. Retrieved 30 October 2013.

[27] 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, supra note 74. 141

[28] Ngo, Diana, The Spratly Islands Dispute: Why is this important? October 13, 2011,


Fig. 1. Carpio, A. (2017). Maritime zones under UNCLOS. [digital image] Unpublished illustration.

Fig. 2. Adapted from Philippine territorial map by Roel Balingit (username:Namnaya), licensed under CC BY 2.5.

Fig. 3. Carpio, A. (2017). Geologic features in the sea. [digital image]. Unpublished illustration.

Fig. 4. Sambawan Island, Biliran undiscovered paradise,

Fig. 5. Carpio, A. (2017). Rock above water at high tide and its 12 NM territorial sea. [digital image] Unpublished illustration.

Fig. 6. Map included in Magallona v. Ermita, G.R. No. 187167, 16 August 2011, 655 SCRA 476.

Fig. 7. Waters claimed by China under the nine-dashed line. The bold lines enclose the waters under the jurisdiction of the Hainan Province. The rest of the waters enclosed by the nine-dashed line are administered by Guandong Province. The shaded area is the Chinese encroachment on Philippine EEZ.

Fig. 8.

Fig. 9. Malakunas, K./AFP (2016). The Philippine flag is planted on a part of

Scarborough Shoal. [photo] Available at:

qa-on-scarborough-shoal-a-flashpoint-in-asia [Last accessed Mar. 10, 2017].

Fig. 10. Chauha, 2009


Firstly, praises and thanks to God, the Almighty, for His showers of guidance and blessings throughout this work to complete the research successfully.

Deep and sincere gratitude is also extended to our research advisor, Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, Professor from the College of Law of the University of Saint La Salle, for giving us the opportunity to do this research and providing invaluable guidance throughout this research. Her dynamism, vision, sincerity and motivation have deeply inspired us. She has taught us the methodology to carry out the research and to present the research works as clearly as possible. It was a great privilege and honor to work and study under her guidance.

Also, we would like to thank our notable resource persons who took the time to give us insightful comments and answers to our hard questions. Without their guidance, we would not be able to fully reach the objectives of this study.

Lastly, we express our gratitude to our family, for their support throughout the research.


The researchers are JD1 students from the University of Saint La Salle College of Law. They are a combination of full time and working students. As first year students, this is the first legal research conducted by this group under the guidance of their Legal Research professor, Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue.

All Rights Reserved. Philippines 2019.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s