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
The Philippines is composed of more than 7,100 islands and islets lying a little above the equator off the coast of Asia . Its island stretch almost a thousand miles from north to south and its irregular coastline consists of 10,850 statue miles, twice as long as that of the United States. Its total land area is about 114,830 square miles, one half of which is covered by forests.
The Philippines archipelago, with all the islands and water embrace there in the above definition of our national territory shall have reference to and shall cover the islands and the waters set forth in the Treaty of Paris of December 10, 1898, the Treaty of November 7, 1900 between the United States and Spain (covering Cagayan, Sulu and Siboto groups omitted in the Treaty of Paris) and the Treaty of January 2, 1930 between the United States and Great Britain (covering Turtle Islands and the Mangsee Groups). It was, therefore, erroneous to conclude that the above definition did away with the territorial waters set forth in the Treaty of Paris .
The archipelagic waters of our archipelago are protected by the second sentence of the definitions of our national territory which reads: “The waters around, between, and connecting the islands of the archipelago, regardless of their breadth and dimensions, from part of the internal waters of the Philippines .
Speaking of the scope and legal implications of the boundaries of the Philippines archipelago, the Committee on National Territory of the 1971 Constitutional Convention, observed:
“if we plot on a map the boundaries of the Philippines archipelago as set forth in the Treaty of Paris , a huge or giant rectangle will emerge, measuring about 600 miles in width, and over 1,200 miles in length. Inside the rectangle are 7,100 islands comprising the Philippines Islands . From the east coast of Luzon to the eastern boundary of this huge rectangle in the Pacific Ocean , there is distance of over 300 miles. From the west coast of Luzon to the western boundary of this giant rectangle in the China Sea , there is a distance over 150 miles."