The fundamental position of the Philippines regarding the extent of its territorial and maritime boundaries is based on two contentious premises: first, that the limits of its national territory are the boundaries laid down in the 1898 Treaty of Paris which ceded the Philippines from Spain to the UnitedStates; and second, that all the waters embraced within these imaginary lines are its territorial waters. The position of the Philippine Government is contested in the international community and runs against rules in the Law of the SeaConvention, which the Philippines signed and ratified. This situation poses two fundamental unresolved issues of conflict: first, is the issue on the breadth of its territorial sea, and second, its treatment of supposed archipelagic watersas internal waters. The twin issues of the legal status of the Philippine Treaty Limits and its extensive historic claims to territorial waters have been subject of much academic debate and serious criticisms.
The delimitation of Philippine territorial and maritime boundaries in conformity with international law necessitates the reform of the existing national legal, policy and administrative framework to resolve fundamental issues ofconflict between domestic legislation and international law. This paper, proceeding from both a national and an international legal perspective, aims to clarify the legal status of the Philippine Treaty Limits and territorial watersclaim in international law.