Civil Law

Illuh Asaali vs Commissioner of Customs

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G.R. No. L-24170 – 26 SCRA 382 – Civil Law – Preliminary Title – Territoriality of Philippine Laws

Criminal Law – Characteristics of Penal Laws – Territoriality

In 1950, customs officers intercepted 5 ships owned by Illuh Asaali et al. Said ships were found to be from Borneo and were on their way to a port in Tawi-tawi, Sulu. On board the ships were rattan products and cigarettes. The customs confiscated said items on the ground that Asaali et al do not have the required import permits for the said goods.

Asaali questioned the legality of the seizure as he contended that the customs officers did not intercept them within Philippine waters but rather, they were intercepted in the high seas. Hence, according to Asaali, Philippine import laws have no application to the case at bar.

ISSUE: Whether or not Asaali’s contention is correct.

HELD: No. Asaali’s contention is without merit. The Revised Penal Code leaves no doubt as to its applicability and enforceability not only within the Philippines, its interior waters and maritime zone, but also outside of its jurisdiction against those committing offense while on a Philippine ship. The ships intercepted were of Philippine registry.

Further, it has been an establish principle that a state has the right to protect itself and its revenues, a right not limited to its own territory but extending to the high seas. The authority of a nation within its own territory is absolute and exclusive. The seizure of a vessel within the range of its cannon by a foreign force is an invasion of that territory, and is a hostile act which it is its duty to repel. But its power to secure itself from injury may certainly be exercised beyond the limits of its territory.

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