Tag Archives: territory


The Rock, left, and The Governor
The Rock, left, and The Governor

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Adobo Chronicles) –  The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has just ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of birthright citizenship does not apply to island territories including American Samoa.

Agreeing with the Obama administration’s lawyers, the DC Circuit relied on and even expanded the scope of a set of racially-charged, Colonial-era cases that refer to “savages” and “alien races” to reach their decision.

The cited Insular Cases date back to the early 20th century when the US had just won the Spanish-American War and acquired Puerto Rico and the far-flung new territories of Guam and the Philippines. The US acquired American Samoa in two parts in 1900 and 1904 as part of its continued expansion. But American political leaders had a problem: They wanted the United States to become a colonial power, but they didn’t want to extend constitutional protections to the overwhelmingly nonwhite residents of the new territories. (As one of the friend-of-the-court brief in the current case notes, the Democratic Party’s official platform in 1900 argued that “the Filipinos cannot be citizens without endangering our civilization.”)

American Samoa is one of U.S. territories that also include Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Northern Marianas.

Reacting to the court decision, the American Samoa Fono, the territory’s legislature, unanimously passed an emergency bill requiring all visiting U.S. citizens to apply for an entry visa.  The bill was immediately signed by Governor Lolo Letalu Matalasi Moliga.

“If the U.S. doesn’t want us to be citizens, then we don’t want U.S. citizens to freely come and go on our beautiful islands,” Moliga said.

Related story: Philippines Now Requires Entry Visa For Americans Visiting The Country

Hollywood actor Dwayne Johnson, star of the new blockbuster movie ‘San Andreas,’ was scheduled to visit American Samoa over the weekend for some R & R, but had to cancel travel plans. Johnson, a U.S. citizen, is part Samoan. He said he is not upset about the new visa requirement. In fact, he is supportive of it, saying the issue “is not just about fairness or birthright citizenship; it is about U.S. colonial mentality that has no place in our modern society.”

You go, Rock!


The-philippines-map1The Government of the Philippines has formally filed a petition with the United Nations to correct the universal record which lists countries according to their size and territorial area.

In a note verbale signed by President NoyNoy Aquino, delivered today by the country’s Permanent Representative to the U.N., Libran Cabactulan, the government asserted that the Philippines is almost twice the size than what is currently on record in world almanacs.

In terms of size, the Philippines is the 73rd largest country in the world (out of 249 countries and territories).  Its total area is 300,000 kilometers (120,000 miles), of which 298,170 kilometers is land the remaining is water (surface areas of inland water bodies like lakes, reservoirs and rivers).

However, it is a fact that the Philippines is much larger than 300,000 kilometers considering that it is an archipelago consisting of 7,100 islands, each surrounded by water. Many countries like the United States include their territorial waters when defining their total area.

Territorial waters, on the other hand, is defined by the 1982 United National Convention on the Law of the Sea, as a belt of coastal waters extending at 12 nautical miles or 22.2 kilometers (13.8 miles) from the coastal baseline.

In other words, if the Philippines’ surrounding and territorial waters are taken into account, it would be larger than Japan, Germany, Finland, Norway, Poland or Italy.

The Aquino administration decided to file the petition as it continues to challenge China’s claim over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.  The Philippines maintains that the disputed islands are part of its territory.

“We have to assert our territorial rights from the position of strength – and size – and correcting the record on how large our country actually is, would do just that,” Aquino said in the note verbale.