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Carpio Jo Anne C.




In 2013, the U.S.S. Guardian of the U.S. Navy ran aground the area near the Tubbataha Reefs ,
a marine habitat/sanctuary where human activities are strictly prohibited as protection under the
Philippine Laws .The incident prompted the petitioners to seek for the issuance of the Writ Of
Kalikasan with TEPO from the Supreme Court .Among those people who are impleaded are the
U.S. Officials in their capacity as U. S. Navy Officers .They argued that they have immunity
from suit between the United States and the Philippines pursuant to the Visiting Forces
Agreement. Petioners claimed that grounding, salvaging, post salvaging operations in the
Tubbataha Reefs violated their constitutional rights to a healthful ecology.Such operations as
initiated by the U.S. Navy Officers may cause environmental damage to the provinces
surrounding the Tubbataha Reefs. They sought for a directive from the Supreme Court for the
institution of civil, administrative and criminal suits for violation of Environmental Laws and
Regulations in the Philippines. They also sought for the annulment of some VFA provisions to
be declared unconstitutional.

ISSUE1: wether or not the U.S. government has given its consent to be sued under VFA.


No. The general rule on state immunity applies in this case. Any immunity from suit applies in
the criminal jurisdiction and not to special civil actions such as the Writ of Kalikasan. Hence,
contrary to the petitioners claim ,U.S. government have not waived its immunity from suit .The
officers were sued in their capacity as the commanding officers of the U.S Navy .The Principle
of the State Immunity in correlation to the state principle as sovereign equals.par in parem
non habet non imperium bars the exercise of jurisdiction by the court to the persons.

ISSUE 2: wether or not the U.S. government can be held liable for the damages caused in the
Tubbataha Reefs.

Yes. The U.S. government can be held liable in the grounding incident in violation to the
customary laws in navigation. Thus, such act of the U.S. officers when a warship entered a
restricted area which human activities are prevented inorder to protect the reefs .It is in violation
of R.A. 10067 which cause damage to the reef system. Historically, warships enjoy sovereign
immunity from suit as extension of the flagstate .However, article 31 of UNCLOS creates an
exception to this rule in cases when they fail to comply with the rules and regulations of the
coastal state regarding the passage in internal waters and territorial sea.

United States has not ratified the UNLCOS as a long standing policy. The U.S. considers itself
bounded itself to the customary rules in the traditional uses of the ocean as codified in
UNCLOS .U.S disagreement to join UNCLOS was centered on deep sea bed mining which
considers the ocean and deep sea beds as commonly owned by mankind. It has nothing to do
with the acceptance by U.S of the customary rules in navigation. Non- membership of U.S in
the UNCLOS does not mean that they will disregard the rights of the Philippines as a coastal
state over its internal waters and the seabed. Thus, U.S is expected to bear international
responsibility under Art. 31 in connection to the grounding of the U.S.S Guardian in the
Tubbataha Reefs.

Q: What Special Issue on International Law is connected in this case?How did the Arbitration
court find the issue?

A: U.S being a non member of UNCLOS should recognize the rights of the Philippines as a
coastal state .Thus, it is expected that grounding, salvaging and post salvaging of the
U.S.S Guardian in the Tubbataha Reefs endangers the environment, the seabed and the
territorial sea of the Philippines. The U.S. officers should have not entered a restricted
sanctuary.They cannot claim state immunity as stated in the VFA .Hence they have
violated some provisons , and they liable to the damage of a marine habitat .U.S have
violated Article 31 of UNCLOS.

1. a) The Philippine Courts have no jurisdiction over the said suit. Thus ,The US government has
jurisdiction in connection to the remedial actions since the suit is against the US itself.
The principle of the state immunity in connection to the state principle of par in parem
non habet non imperium bars the exercise of jurisdiction by the courts over the persons.

b)The non membership of the U.S in the UNCLOS does not mean that they will disregard
the rights of the Philippines as a coastal state over the internal waters and the territorial
sea. U.S. should exercise international responsibility in connection to Art.31 of
UNCLOS in connection to the grounding of the U.S.S Guardian grounding the
Tubbataha Reefs which adversely affected the reefs causing damage to the marine
habitat and sanctuary.
2.No. I dont agree with the objection of Congressman X.The provisions Unclos is not in
violation of the constitution. As stated in Article 1 of the constitution, it clearly defined
the Philippine Territories in connection its terrestrial,fluvial, and aerial domains which
includes the territorial sea, the subsoil, the insular shelves and other submarine areas and
that all the waters around, between and surrounding the Philippine Archipelago form part
of the internal waters of the Philippines. However in the UNITED NATIONS
CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA states that through this international
convention,it aims to promote the spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation with
regards to the issues in connection with regards to the issues on the law of the sea. The
important contribution of this convention is to promote peace,justice and progress to all
the people in the world. Also, to establish, promote and recognize due regard to
sovereign states. Hence, the objective of UNCLOS is noble which is to promote
international responsibility among states. It does not violate our constitution.

3.Territorial Sea- the boundaries in relation to the waters surrounding a particular state.

Contiguous Zone- it is also called maritime zone, touching along a boundary or point.

Exclusive Economic Zone- the coastal water or seabed of the country which claims the right
over it.

4 .Doctrine of Transformation and Incorporation-

The transformation requires that an international law be transformed to a domestic law through