Palace to House: Exclude Kalayaan, Scarborough from baseline

MALACANANG has asked the House of Representatives to reconsider a bill which seeks to enclose the Kalayaan Island Group (KIB) and Scarborough Shoal within the archipelagic baseline.


A Palace statement said Executive Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita wrote Speaker Prospero C. Nograles last April 4 to reiterate the position of the executive branch “to enclose the main archipelago within the baselines and treat the Kalayaan Group of Islands as a regime of islands.”

Ermita, chair of the Commission on Maritime and Ocean Affairs, said this position had been relayed through the Department of Foreign Affairs during the hearings of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on House Bill 1202.

The House bill has been consolidated with related measures to become House Bill 3216, which passed second reading last December.

“The Executive’s position is consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which provides that an archipelagic state, such as the Philippines, may consist wholly of one or more archipelagos and may include other islands,” Ermita said. “As an archipelagic state, our archipelagic baselines should be drawn along the general configuration of the archipelago, while the other islands shall have normal baselines.”

Ermita said not enclosing the KIG and Scarborough Shoal within the archipelagic baseline does not mean giving up our sovereignty over these islands. He also said the executive’s position will not diminish the country’s exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.

Treating Kalayaan Islands and Scarborough Shoal under the “regime of islands” is consistent with the fact that they are integral parts of an archipelagic Philippines, Ermita said.

Rep. Antonio Cuenco, a co-author of House Bill 3216, earlier said he prefers to have the bill passed on third reading without revision. Changes can be introduced by the bicameral conference committee when it reconciles the bill with its Senate counterpart, he said.

The Senate has yet to act on the baseline bill filed by detained Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

Trillanes’ Senate Bill 1467 seeks to enclose Scarborough Shoal within the baseline and treat the Kalayaan islands as a regime of islands.