Theory of generality (Article 14, Civil Code)

Penal laws and those of public security and safety shall be obligatory upon all who live or sojourn in Philippine territory, subject to the principles of public international law and to treaty stipulations. (Article 14, Civil Code of the Philippines)

The Philippines adheres to the doctrine known in criminal law as the theory of territoriality, i.e., any offense committed within our territory offends the State. Therefore any person, whether citizen or alien, can be punished for committing a crime here. As a result, the technical term "generality theory" developed which means that any person, citizens or aliens, residents or non-residents, male or female, come under our territorial jurisdiction. This is because aliens owe some sort of allegiance even if it be temporary. (Paras, 2008)

"Territoriality" refers to "where the act was committed or omitted." On the other hand, "generality" refers to "who committed or omitted the act." Article 14, as above-mentioned, refers to the generality principle.

The first exception to Article 14 is the principles of public international law.

Public international law is the body of rules that is legally binding on States and international organizations in their interactions with other States, international organizations, individuals, and other entities. International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. ( For example, heads of state are considered by public international law as immune from the territorial jurisdiction of another state.

The second exception to Article 14 is the treaty stipulations. The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations provide immunities to consuls and diplomats.

In additional to the above, under Article 2 of Act No. 3815, the Revised Penal Code, except as provided in the treaties and laws of preferential application, the provisions of this Code shall be enforced not only within the Philippine Archipelago, including its atmosphere, its interior waters and maritime zone, but also outside of its jurisdiction, against those who:

  1. Should commit an offense while on a Philippine ship or airship;
  2. Should forge or counterfeit any coin or currency note of the Philippine Islands or obligations and securities issued by the Government of the Philippine Islands;
  3. Should be liable for acts connected with the introduction into these Islands of the obligations and securities mentioned in the preceding number;
  4. While being public officers or employees, should commit an offense in the exercise of their functions; or
  5. Should commit any of the crimes against national security and the law of nations, defined in Title One of Book Two of this Code.


In the case of Coleman vs. Tennessee (97 U.S. 509), the Supreme Court of the United States, among other things, said:

It is well settled that a foreign army, permitted to march through a friendly country or to be stationed in it, by permission of its government or sovereign, is exempt from the civil and the criminal jurisdiction of the place. The sovereign is understood, said this court in the celebrated case of The Exchange, 7 Cranch, 139, to cede a portion of his territorial jurisdiction when he allows the troops of a foreign prince to pass through his dominions: "In such case, without any express declaration waiving jurisdiction over the army to which this right of passage has been granted, it would certainly be considered as violating his faith. By exercising it, the purpose for which the free passage was granted would be defeated, and a portion of the military force of a foreign independent nation would be diverted from those national objects and duties to which it was applicable, and would be withdrawn from the control of the sovereign whose power and whose safety might greatly depend on retaining the exclusive command and disposition of this force. The grant of a free passage, therefore, implies a waiver of all jurisdiction over the troops during their passage, and permits the foreign general to use that discipline and to inflict those punishments which the government of this army may require." (Cited in Raquiza v. Bradford, 75 Phil. 50, G.R. No. L-44, September 13, 1945)

If they travel incognito but with the knowledge of our government of´Čücials, heads of states are entitled to immunity. If the incognito travel is without the knowledge or permission of our country, diplomatic immunity cannot be insisted upon, and the heads of states traveling may be arrested. However, once they reveal their identity, immunity is given. Generally, should a friendly foreign army be given permission to march through our country or be stationed here, said army is usually exempt from civil and criminal responsibility. (Paras, 2008 citing Raquiza v. Bradford, 75 Phil. 50)