Category Archives: News and Updates

Three Years After Our Nation’s Arbitral Victory: An Environmental Crisis

In commemoration of the Philippines’ decisive win in the South China Sea Arbitration before a UN Convention on the Law of the Sea Annex VII Tribunal constituted at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands in 2016, the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and the Law of the Sea, in partnership with Stratbase ADR Institute, hosted “Three Years After Our Nation’s Arbitral Victory: An Environmental Crisis”, a public forum, at the UP Bonifacio Global City Campus last July 12, 2019. The forum was attended by various government institutions, non-government organizations, lawyers, academics, students, and news and media organizations. 

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Prof. Renato de Castro. Source: Stratbase-ADRI.

The forum consisted of two panels, the first of which focused on the Duterte Administration’s post-Arbitration policy direction in the West Philippine Sea. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, De La Salle University professor Dr. Renato De Castro and UP IMLOS Director Dr. Jay Batongbacal provided insight on the same.

IMLOS Director Prof. Jay Batongbacal. Source: Stratbase-ADRI.

The second panel featured former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, PROTECT West Philippine Sea Chief Scientist Dr. Deo Florence Onda, De La Salle University College of Law Dean Atty. Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno, and ABS-CBN News Correspondent Chiara Zambrano, who then focused on the environmental crisis in the West Philippine Sea and the long-term effects of marine degradation on food and economic security. Dr. Mahar Mangahas, President of the Social Weather Stations, also presented the SWS survey results on public perception on the current Administration’s handling of West Philippine Sea-related issues.

Dr. Mahar Mahangas discussing SWS Survey Results on Public Opinion on the West Philippine Sea Conflict.

More information on the Symposium can be found here.

IMLOS holds symposium on China’s Growing Role in the Philippine Economy

On May 28, 2019, the UP Law Center, through its Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea (IMLOS) and Institute for International Legal Studies (IILS), hosted a public discussion on “China’s Growing Role in the Philippine Economy”. The symposium explored, in particular, issues relating to the Philippines and China’s recent cooperation agreements signed on the occasion of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Manila in November 2019, and President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Beijing in April 2019.

Prof. Merlin Magallona, Former Dean of the UP College of Law, discussed the constitutional implications of the Memorandum of Agreement on Oil and Gas Cooperation. Information and Communications Technology Law experts Prof. Rogelio Quevedo and Prof. Emerson Bañez, each discussed aspects of commuications infrastructure cooperation with China. Former Public-Private Partnership Center head Prof. Andre Palacios discussed the thrust of the ongoing Build, Build, Build Program vis-a-vis proposed infrastructure projects under the agreements. Finally, UP School of Economics Teaching Fellow JC Punongbayan walked attendees through the financial and economic aspects of China’s agreements under the Belt and Road Initiative.

The Symposium concluded with several points for future consideration as the two countries move forward with their respective commitments. First, there must be a careful assessment of how these agreements are treated in relation to the Constitution. Definitions of particularly contentious terms such as “patrimonial assets” must also be analyzed. Second, agreements about information and communications technology must be reviewed as against the existing tech infrastructure in the country, the technical and financial capacity of existing players, and future demand of consumers. Third, public infrastructure agreements must be assessed in terms of what kind of financing is most advantageous and feasible, the source of such financing, and terms and conditions that may severely put the Philippines at a disadvantage. Panelists and participants also noted the importance of looking out for various risks which, while not contained in stipulations under the agreements, may nevertheless arise in the implementation stages.

With a number of such agreements providing for deadlines to further agree on the terms of implementation thereof, and the forthcoming assumption into office of new members of Congress, public discussion on the same remains timely as ever.

UP Law hosts 2019 Stetson SEARR—NUS, UP teams bag top awards

Final round judges with the winning team from NUS

The University of the Philippines Law Center through its Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea (UP-IMLOS) and Institute for International Legal Studies (UP-IILS), hosted the Southeast Asian Regional Rounds (“SEARR”) of the 23rd Stetson International Environmental Law Moot Court Competition (“Stetson”) last January 8 to 10 at the UP College of Law. The Stetson is the most prestigious international environmental law moot court competition that focuses on the legal aspects of global environmental challenges. One of two student teams representing the National University of Singapore bagged the championship during the Stetson SEARR.

This year’s competition centers on the “Use of the Sargasso Sea and the Protection of Eels”, involving coastal States’ responsibilities under international environmental treaties. These include the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the Paris Climate Agreement.

A total of 14 teams participated in the Stetson SEARR, hailing from law schools in the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. Four of these teams will be moving on to compete in the International Final Rounds of the Stetson Competition in Gulfport, Florida, namely, the University of the Philippines, University of St. La Salle, and two teams from the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Best Speaker in the Final Round, Camille Angela Santana Cruz

Next to NUS’ Applicant Team, the University of the Philippines emerged First Runner-Up of the competition, with mooter Camille Angela Santana Cruz receiving the award for Best Speaker in the Final Round. Awards for the top five speakers during the preliminary rounds were also given to the following, ranked first to fifth: Danelle Leigh Pandan Villadolid (University of St. La Salle), Mark Brainwin Lora Que (Ateneo Law School), Lcid Crescent De La Gente Fernandez (University of San Agustin), Princess Joy Quinto (Lyceum of the Philippines University),and Daniel Victor Labrador Zayco (University of St. La Salle).

The Ateneo Law School also received an award for submitting the Best Memorial, followed by the NUS Applicant Team, and the University of the Philippines.

The International Final Rounds of Stetson will be held in Gulfport, Florida on April 11-13, 2019.

IMLOS opens 2019 with Discussions on Marine Environmental Protection

The UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and the Law of the Sea kicked off its activities for 2019 with a public lecture on “Fisheries and Marine Environment Protection Cooperation within ASEAN” by ocean affairs expert Dr. Lowell Bautista, last January 9, 2018 at the UP Law Center. Dr. Bautista is presently affiliated with the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS), and is a Senior Lecturer and Head of Students at the University of Wollongong.

During the lecture, Dr. Bautista discussed the global and regional legal and institutional framework on fisheries and marine environmental protection, focusing in particular on different mechanisms existing within the ASEAN. Examining the current situation and strategic realities of the Southeast Asian region, Dr. Bautista pointed to the absence and desirability of a comprehensive, integrated, legally-binding, and overarching marine environmental regional framework. Lack of the same renders compliance merely voluntary and highly dependent on a State’s resource capacity. The region’s political and economic situation also impedes environmental cooperation. Dr. Bautista thus emphasized the need to translate regional programs and projects into national policies that are adequate and effective,in view of the fact that the current legal framework for transboundary fisheries governance is either ad hoc, sectoral, or species-based.

The public lecture was attended by members of different government institutions, non-government organizations, and participants from different law schools competing in the Southeast Asian Regional Rounds of the 23rd Stetson Annual Environmental Moot Court Competition. 

A graduate of the UP College of Law prior to his Master of Laws and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Dalhousie University (Canada), and the University of Wollongong, respectively, Dr. Bautista regularly advises the Philippine and Australian governments on issues relating to offshore oil and gas resources, the law of the sea, and maritime boundary delimitation, among others.

IMLOS holds symposium on Maritime Issues of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro


The Institute of Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea (IMLOS) of the University of the Philippines Law Center held a symposium on the legal implications of the New Bangsamoro Waters and the Zones of Joint Cooperation last March 18, 2013 at the UP Law Center. The speakers were experts and individuals involved in the process of drafting the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chairperson of the GPH Peace Panel, discussed the Addendum on Bangsamoro Waters and Zones of Joint Cooperation. She discussed the impact of wealth sharing and power sharing on the Bangsamoro Waters, and touched on the topic of preferential fishing rights in the Zones of Joint Cooperation for the Bangsamoro and other indigenous peoples in the adjoining provinces.

IMLOS Director Professor Jay Batongbacal, who assisted the GRP Panel on crafting the initial ideas for the Bangsamoro Waters discussed the legal geography of the new Bangsamoro Region.

Professor Dante Gatmaytan, a constitutional law expert commissioned to assist in working out the terms on natural resources and ancestral domain, discussed the constitutionality of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. He describes the agreement as a test on the limits of our Constitution in the context that it is reconciling a separatist movement with a constitutional regime. He concludes that Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro can be accommodated by the present legal framework and the enumeration of powers therein is in consonance with Article X of the 1987 Constitution.

Dr. Diane Desierto, an expert in international economic law and professor at the University of Hawaii – Richardson School of Law, provided views on investment implications of the Bangsamoro agreement and its annexes. She pointed out things to consider under the annexes that need to be managed in terms of the expectations of the Bangsamoro having exclusive powers over investment and the central government spelling out investment policies on the treaty level and the national legislative level.

Reactions and questions were raised by representatives from different sectors such as fisheries, petroleum, maritime transportation, marine conservation and protection, and indigenous peoples. Undersecretary for Political Affairs Chito Gascon joined the speakers in responding to the reactions and inquiries raised by the audience.

Prof. Batongbacal ended the symposium with his synthesis of the speakers’ messages and the reactions of the audience. He said that there are still several issues to be resolved, such as clarifications on the impact of the Bangsamoro Basic Law with existing laws and the creation of dispute resolution mechanisms, as the agreement was not designed to cover all the issues that may arise. The various points raised in the symposium will be forwarded to the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, and the GPH Peace Panel.

The signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro is set tomorrow, March 27, 2014, at the Malacanang Palace which will end the seventeen years of negotiations between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

– JM Plaza

Originally published here.

Legal Scholars to Discuss Implications of Bangsamoro Waters Addendum at UP

Bangsamoro Symposium

On Tuesday, March 18, the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea (UP-IMLOS) will be hosting a symposium on the legal implications of the latest addendum to the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement. Signed on January 25, 2014, the addendum supplements the earlier provisions of the Agreement on the wealth-sharing scheme to govern the relations of the Philippine Government and the resulting Bangsamoro entity, with the emergent concepts of Bangsamoro Waters and Zones of Joint Cooperation in the Sulu Sea.

Government Peace Panel Chairperson Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, also a professor of political science at the UP, will provide a background on the Agreement and the Addendum, and their salient provisions. UP-IMLOS Director Prof. Jay Batongbacal, meanwhile, will discuss how the “regional waters” up to 12 nautical miles from the low-water mark of the coasts of the land territory of the Bangsamoro and the “zones of cooperation” relate to natural resource allocation schemes under current law.  UP Law Professor Dan Gatmaytan will explore the implications of the creation of what is essentially a “super-autonomous” region in the south. Former UP Law Professor Diane Desierto, now co-director of the ASEAN Law and Integration Center (ALIC) at the University of Hawai’i, will delve into the investment implications of the Framework Agreement. The talks will provide the groundwork for participating agencies and stakeholders to discuss the best ways of implementing the agreement through the prospective Basic Law for the Bangsamoro.

The workshop will be held from 9:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. at the 2nd floor conference room of the UP Law Center (Bocobo Hall), Diliman, Quezon City. For more information, please call (02)920-5514 local 218.