The elephant in the room in popular discourse about maritime entitlements won by the Philippines before the South China Sea (SCS) Arbitral Tribunal is the status of the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG). To recall, the KIG regime was established by the 1978 Presidential Decree No. 1596 attaching it to the province of Palawan. Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) issued a resolution in Republic v. Palawan (GR No. 170867, Jan. 21, 2020) expressly maintaining the legal status of the KIG by using and depicting the polygon-shaped baselines of the KIG as defined by PD 1596. The SC used the KIG baselines to rule that the Malampaya oil and gas fields are outside the province’s jurisdiction. In doing so, it denied the province’s entitlement to the proceeds of the fields under the Local Government Code’s 60-40 sharing scheme. To make matters worse, in the same case, the SC gave the KIG its own continental shelf! This is contrary to the 2016 SCS Arbitral Award, which said that all high tide … [Read more...] about Should we now slay the elephant in the room?