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Section 1, Article 1

of the 1987 Constitution

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. The waters around, between, and
connecting the islands of the archipelago, regardless
of their breadth and dimensions, form part of
internal waters of the Philippines.
Necessity of constitutional
provision on National Territory
1. Binding force of such provision under international law.
A state has the power to try, hear and decide
cases throughout the extent of its territory.
If there is a territorial dispute it should be
settled according to the international law.

2. Value of provision defining our national territory.

It is important to know so that we and the
other nations would know the boundaries
of our country.
3. Acquisition of other territories.
Even though the bounds of our national
territory is already written in the law, this does
not prevent the Philippines from acquiring new
territories by means of purchase, exchange, and
National Territory of the Philippines comprises of:
1. The Philippine archipelago with all the islands
and waters embraced therein;
2. All other territories over which the Philippines has
sovereignty or jurisdiction.
3. The terrestrial, fluvial and aerial domains
including the territorial sea, the seabed, the
subsoil, the insular shelves, and other submarine
areas thereof; and
4. The internal waters.
Derived from the Greek word pelagos meaning
A sea or part of a sea containing many
In other words, it includes both sea and islands
which geographically may be considered as an
independent whole.
Our country is comprised of the sea and all its
islands which is considered to be one single
Other territories over which the
Philippines has sovereignty or
According to the 1973 constitution, “all the other
territories belonging to the Philippines by historic right
or legal”
1. Philippine claim to Sabah
Sabah is the northern part of Borneo.
Coastline of 800 to 900 miles
South China Sea in the West and North
Sulu Sea in the Northeast
Celebes Sea in the East
It is 1,143km from Manila and 1678 km from
Kuala Lumpur.
The Sultan of Sulu was granted the territory of Sabah
as a prize for helping The Sultan of Brunei against his
enemies and from then on that part of Borneo is
recognized as part of the Sultan of Sulu’s sovereignty.

But in 1878, Baron Von Overbeck, a German

representative of the British North Borneo Co. and his
partner Alfred Dent, a British representative of the
British North Borneo Co. leased the territory known
as “Sabah.”
Britain took Sabah on July 10, 1946 as part of its crown
territories and then made the land part of the
Federation of Malaysia. The Philippines maintained
that the contract with Overdeck and Dent was for lease
but the United Kingdom insisted it was for cession or
transfer of ownership.
The Philippines broke diplomatic relations with
Malaysia after the federation have included “Sabah.”
At that time, the current Sultan of Sulu have given the
Philippine government the authority to pursue the
claim legally in international courts.

In 1972, the Marcos administration revived

the claim; but, the “Jabidah Massacre”
incident shelved it once more.
The Sulu Sultanate, in spite of it being located in Mindanao, is
NOT the same as saying it is under the rule of the Philippine
government. It is, in fact, an independent Muslim state, which
historically has acquired territories in and around the Sulu Sea,
including the island of Sabah. When Malaysia got its
independence from the British, the British company also
"surrendered" Sabah to Malaysia. The claim of the Sultan of Sulu
would have more legal bearing if the Philippines recognized the
Sulu Sultanate. As a republic, the Philippine constitution does
not recognize royalties. Also no country recognizes the Sultanate
of Sulu. Sabah will always be, politically speaking, ruled by
Malaysia. Its ownership, however, will always remain with the
heirs of the Sultanate. Philippines might not ever get to claim
Sabah as its rightful territory.
2. Philippine claim to Spratley Island.
The Spratly Islands group consists of a large
number of banks, reefs, cays and islands
stretching from a point. The Spratlies or some
part thereof has been variously claimed by
China (both the People's Republic of China and
the Republic of China), Viet-Nam, France,
Japan, the Philippines, and, also Malaysia.
In 1956, a Filipino navigator named Tomas Cloma
issued a "Proclamation to the whole World" asserting
ownership by discovery and occupation over all the
territory, "33 islands, sands cays, sands bars and coral
reefs and fishing grounds in the Spratlies covering an
area of 64,976 square nautical miles." This claim
provoked statements of protest against the
Philippines by the People's Republic of China and the
Republic· of Viet-Nam.
The legal bases of the demand were as follows: ( 1) The
Philippines has legal title to the island group as a
consequence of the occupation by Tomas Cloma (2) the
presence of the Chinese forces in Itu Aba constituted a
threat to the security of the Philippines; (3) the Chinese
occupation of some islands in the Spratly group
constituted de facto trusteeship on behalf of the World
War II allies which precluded the gamsonning of the
islands without the allies' consent; and (4) the Spratly
group is within the archipelagic territory claimed by the
In 1974, an official spokesman of the Philippine
government announced that the Philippines had
garrisoned five of the islands within the group. At
present, the Philippines have possession of seven
islands. A number of Filipino nationals have settled
in these islands, and a local government has been
organized in one of them.
On June 11, 1978, President Marcos issued Presidential
Decree No. 1596 declaring most19 of the islands, cays,
shoals and reefs as belonging to the Philippines and
forming an integral part of Philippine territory. It named
the area claimed "Kalayaan Island Group," which is a
Filipinized version of the name Tomas Cloma gave his
discovery: "Freedom land." The group of islands was
integrated as a municipality of the province of Palawan.
Philippine island closest to the incorporated cluster decree
cited a number of bases for the claim to title, namely: (1)
the area is part of the continental margin of the Philippine
archipelago; (2) the islands do not belong to any state, but
by reason of history, indispensable need, and effective
occupation and control established in accordance with
international law, should now be deemed subject to the
sovereignty of the Philippines; and (3) claims by other states
over the area had lapse by reason of abandonment and
cannot prevail over that of the Philippines on legal,
historical and equitable grounds.
Currently the Philippines is occupying
nine features (seven islands, three
37.2 ha. (2nd largest), pag-asa means hope
Pagasa Island (Thitu Island)
18.6 ha. (3rd largest), likas means natural or evacuate
Likas Island (West York Island)
12.7 ha. (5th largest), parola means lighthouse

Parola Island (Northeast Cay) 7.93 ha. (8th largest), lawak means vastness

Lawak Island (Nanshan Island) 6.45 ha. (10th largest), kuta means fortress

Kota Island (Loaita Island)

0.57 ha. (14th largest), patag means flat

0.44 ha. (15th largest and the smallest, panatâ means vow
Patag Island (Flat Island)
Rizal is named after Dr. José P. Rizal, the national hero of the
Panata Island (Lankiam Cay)
Rizal Reef (Commodore Reef)
Balagtas is named after Francisco Balagtas, a famous Filipino

Balagtas Reef (Irving Reef) poet

Ayungin Reef (Second Thomas Reef) Ayungin is Leiopotherapon plumbeus, a Philippine-endemic fish

2. Future claims by the Philippines to other areas.
The phrase “all the other territories belonging
to the Philippines by historic right or legal
title.” Found in 1973 constitution was omitted
in the present charter.
Other areas included in the
Philippine archipelago.
The Philippine territory consists of its
terrestrial, fluvial, and aerial domains.
Included in its fluvial domains, in addition to
the external waters, are:

1. Territorial sea.
2. The seabed
3. The subsoil
4. Insular shelves
5. Other submarine areas
- A part of the sea extending 12
nautical miles (19 kms) from
the low-water mark.

It is also called the marginal

sea, the marginal belt or the
marine belt.
- is the land that holds the sea,
lying beyond the seashore,
including mineral and natural

It is at the top portion of the

submarine area.
- is everything beneath
the surface soil and the
seabed including
mineral and natural
- are the submerged portions of a
continent or offshore island, which
slope gently seaward from the low
waterline to a point where a substantial
break in grade occurs, at which point
the bottom slopes seaward at
a considerable increase in slope until
the great ocean depths are reached;
- refers to those which are
under the territorial sea. They
are otherwise referred to as
seamount, trough, trench,
deep, bank, shoal, and reef.
Three-fold division of navigable
From the standpoint of international law, the waters of
the earth are divided into:
 Inland or Internal Waters - they are the parts of the
sea within the land territory. They are considered in
the same light as rivers, canals, and lakes within the
land territory of a state. They are sometimes
called national waters.
 Territorial Sea (supra) - it is belt of water outside
and parallel to the coastline or to the outer limits of
the inland or internal waters.
 High or Open Seas - they are waters that lie seaward
of the territorial sea.
All other territories over which
the Philippines has sovereignty
- includes any territory that
presently belongs or might in the
future belong to the Philippines
through any of the accepted
international modes of acquiring
Archipelagic Principle
Two elements: 1. The definition of internal waters
(supra); 2. The straight baseline method of
delineating the territorial sea

Important distances with respect to the waters around

the Philippines
-Territorial Sea 12 nautical miles (n.m.)
-Contiguous Zone 12 n.m. from the edge of the
territorial sea
-Exclusive Economic Zone 200 n.m. from the baseline
Territorial Sea
The belt of the sea located between the coast and
internal waters of the coastal state on the one
hand, and the high seas on the other, extending up
to 12 nautical miles from the low water mark.
Contiguous Zone
Extends up to 12 nautical miles from the territorial
sea. Although not part of the
territory, the coastal State may exercise jurisdiction
to prevent infringement of customs, fiscal,
immigration or sanitary laws.
Exclusive Economic Zone
The state in the EEZ exercises jurisdiction with
regard to:
1. the establishment and use of artificial islands,
installations, and structures;
2. marine scientific research;
3. the protection and preservation of marine