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ARCHIPELAGIC DOCTRINE

It is defined as all waters, around between and connecting different islands


belonging

to

the

Philippine Archipelago,

irrespective

of

their

width

or

dimension, are necessary appurtenances of its land territory, forming an


integral

part of the

national or inland waters, subject to

the

exclusive

sovereignty of the Philippines. It is found in the 2nd sentence of Article 1 of


the 1987 Constitution.

It emphasizes the unity of the land and waters by defining anarchipelago as


group of islands surrounded by waters or a body of waters studded with
islands.

To emphasize unity, an imaginary single baseline is drawn around the islands


by joining appropriate points of the outermost islands of thearchipelago with
straight

lines

and

all

islands

and

waters

enclosed

within

the

baseline form part of its territory.

The main purpose of the archipelagic doctrine is to protect the territorial


interests

of

an archipelago,

that

is,

the

territorial

integrity

of

the archipelago. Without it, there would be pockets of high seas between
some of our islands and islets, thus foreign vessels would be able to pass
through

these

pockets

of

seas

and

would

have

no

jurisdiction

over

them. Accordingly, if we follow the old rule of international law, it is possible


that between islands, e.g. Bohol and Siquijor, due to the more than 24 mile
distance between the 2 islands, there may be high seas. Thus, foreign
vessels may just enteranytime at will, posing danger to the security of the
State. However, applying the doctrine, even these bodies of water within the
baseline, regardless of breadth, form part of the archipelago and are thus

considered

as

internal

waters.

Following the Archipelagic Doctrine, the Spratlys Group of


Islands is not part of Philippine archipelago. It is too far to be
included within the archipelagic lines encircling the internal
waters of Philippine Archipelago.

However, the SGI is part of

the Philippine territory because it was discovered by a Filipino


seaman in the name of ViceAdmiral Cloma who later renounced
his claim over it in favor of the Republic of the Philippines.
Subsequently, then Pres. Marcos issued a Presidential Decree
constituting SGI as part of the Philippine territory and sending
some

of

our

armed

forces

to

protect

said

island

and maintain our sovereignty over it.


Moreover, Spratlys group of Islands is considered as part of our National
Territory. Article I of the Constitution provides: The national territory
comprises the Philippine archipelago, x x x, and all other territories over
which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction, x x x. The Spratlys
Group of islands falls under the second phrase and all other territories over
which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction. It is part of our
national territory because Philippines exercise sovereignty (through election
of public officials) over Spratlys Group of Islands.

THE PHILIPPINES AND THE


ARCHIPELAGIC DOCTRINE
Archipelago is defined as a sea or part of a sea studded with islands, often synonymous with island
groups, or as a large group of islands in an extensive body of water, such as sea. (De Leon, 1991)
In various conferences of the United Nations on the Law of the Sea, the Philippines and other archipelago
states proposed that an archipelagic state composed of groups of islands forming a state is a single unit,
with the islands and the waters within the baselines as internal waters.By this concept (archipelagic
doctrine), an archipelago shall be regarded as a single unit, so that the waters around, between, and
connecting the islands of the archipelago, irrespective of their breadth and dimensions, form part of the

internal waters of the state, subject to its exclusive sovereignty.

Despite the opposition of maritime powers, the Philippines and four other states (Indonesia, Papua New
Guinea, Fiji and Bahamas) got the approval in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea held in Jamaica
last December 10, 1982. They were qualified as archipelagic states. The archipelagic doctrine is now
incorporated in Chapter IV of the said convention. It legalizes the unity of land, water and people into a
single entity

photo courtesy of gmanews.tv


The Philippines bolstered the archipelagic principle in defining its territory when it included in Article 1 of
the 1987 Constitution the following:
:
"The national territory comprises the Philippine Archipelago, with all the islands and waters embraced
therein xxx"; and
"The waters around, between and connecting the islands of the archipelago, regardless of their
dimensions, form part of the internal waters of the Philippines."
On the strength of these assertions, the Philippines Archipelago is considered as one integrated unit
instead of being divided into more than seven thousand islands. The outermost of our archipelago are
connected with straight baselines and all waters inside the baselines are considered as internal waters.
This makes the large bodies of waters connecting the islands of the archipelago like Mindanao Sea, Sulo
Sea and the Sibuyan Sea part of the Philippines as its internal waters, similar to the rivers and lakes
found within the islands themselves.
The archipelagic principle however is subject to the following limitations:
a) respect for the right of the ship and other states to pass through the territorial as well as archipelagic
waters
b) respect to right of innocent passage
c) respect for passage through archipelagic sea lanes subject to the promulgation by local authorities of
pertinent rules and regulations.