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China is challenging UNCLOS

“China’s claim is that the waters within the nine-dash lines are generated by land territory and hence, the controversy cannot be resolved under the UNCLOS. But clearly, the three specific prayers of the Philippines involve only issues of interpretation and application of specific provisions to UNCLOS relating to internal waters, territorial sea, Exclusive Economic Zones, islands, and low tide elevations. While the Spratlys dispute without a doubt also involves land territory, this is not the subject of the Philippines’ claim.” – Atty. Harry Roque, UP Law Professor


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Sabi ng BATAS | How Many Islands Does Philippines Have?

 

Since gradeschool, we were taught that the number of islands that our Philippine Archipelago has depends on the tide: we have 7,107 islands during low tide while we only have 7,100 islands during high tide.

However, under Public International Law, we actually have 7,100 islands only. In his reviewer book on Public International Law, International Law legal luminary Atty. Ralph Sarmiento clarified:

“If asked how many islands does the Philippines have, do not reply with ‘high tide or low tide?!’ The number of islands does not change whether it’s high tide or low tide because an island is always above water at high tide.”

Atty. Sarmiento anchors his explanation on Art. 121 of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which defines “island” as a naturally formed mass of land, surrounded with waters, which is above water at high tide. In other words, the so-called seven islands of the Philippine Archipelago which appear during low tide cannot actually be considered as islands for they are submerged during high tide.

Kaya next time, whenever you will be asked again how many islands does Philippines have, just answer “7,100 islands”, no more, no less, until some of these islands would be submerged under water due to melting of the ice caps as a consequence of the rapid climate change caused by us. 😉