The National Territory
The national territory pertains to the size of the area occupied by a country. In the Philippines, our national territory is stated clearly in 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 the internal waters of the Philippines.
Countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia participated in conferences on the Archipelagic Doctrine in 1974, 1975, and 1976 to tackle the issues of territorial seas. This is an imaginary line that determines the size and breadth of the territorial sea which a country occupies.
At present, the territorial sea of the Philippines based on the Archipelagic Doctrine runs at 200 miles. This recognized by the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) which also part of the Public International Law of the country. This was strengthened by the National Assembly on 27 February 1984. The following are some of the privileges granted to the Philippines after the conference:
- The Philippines owns all the minerals, petroleum, seabed, and insular shelves at the 200 million miles of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that surrounds the archipelago, including the continental shelf which is 200 miles from the shoreline. This secures and protects the country’s territorial rights and ownership. Hence, all efforts should be made to preserve them.
- An additional 93 million hectares of territorial sea is under Philippine sovereignty including an exclusive economic zone. This shows that the area of our national territory has even expanded.
- The implementation of international law on the Archipelagic Doctrine which our country had lobbied for from 1956. Because of this law, measures were taken to prevent a country from taking advantage of another country’s natural resources. (De Leon 1999)