It was in response to law professors Harry Roque and Merlin Magallona, 38 law students and former Congresswoman Risa Hontiveros Baraquel who claimed that the bill would result in the loss of 15,000 square nautical miles of the country’s territorial waters
Manila: The Apex Court upheld a law signed by former President Gloria Arroyo in 2009, which included the Kalayaan eight island chain in the contested Spratly Archipelago in the South China Sea as part of the country’s territory, a local paper said.
It was in response to law professors Harry Roque and Merlin Magallona, 38 law students of the University of the Philippines, and former Congresswoman Risa Hontiveros Baraquel, who claimed that the bill passed by Congress and signed by Arroyo into a law in 2009, would result in the loss of 15,000 square nautical miles of the country’s territorial waters.
Their fear is without merit, according to a unanimous Supreme Court ruling penned by Justice Antonio T. Carpio, said the Manila Bulletin.
The Baseline Law (Republic Act No 9522) has declared that the Kalayaan Island Group (in the Spratly Archipelago) and the Scarborough Shoal, located between Palawan, southwestern Philippines and the Kalayaan, as a “regime of islands under the Republic of the Philippines.”
Congress passed the bill since countries with contested claims should submit a law about that claim before the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on May 4, 1984. Arroyo immediately signed it into law.
The Philippines is a signatory of UNCLOS on May 13, 1984, during the time of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
UNCLOS allows countries to have 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zones from their shores.
UNCLOS, among others, has been a strong basis of the Philippines’ claims on the Kalayaan islands in Spratlys.
China, Vietnam, and Taiwan claim the whole of the South China Sea. The Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei claim some parts of the Spratlys.
China has challenged oil explorations allowed and being planned by the Philippines government on the country’s western seaboard, some of which are offshore and the others, in Palawan, facing the South China Sea.