Press Release
February 2, 2015

Drilon: Principle of command responsibility not applicable
in Mamasapano attack

The principle of "command responsibility" is not applicable in the Mamasapano encounter, hence President Aquino cannot be criminally charged on the basis of this doctrine, according to Senate President Franklin M. Drilon.

Drilon, former justice secretary, said that Aquino did not commit any violation of the principle of command responsibility in connection with the Mamasapano bloody encounter that killed 44 policemen last week.

"I do not agree that President Aquino has incurred any liability on the principle of command responsibility under international law. Under the Rome Statute, command responsibility will apply if the superior, knowing his subordinates will commit a crime, fails to stop the commission of the crime, or knowing that his subordinates committed a crime, fails to punish them," said Drilon.

"In this particular case, the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police, per news report, was there to serve a warrant of arrest to known terrorists, not to commit any crime, so the principle of command responsibility does not apply," explained Drilon.

"The command responsibility has no application with President Aquino under the Rome Statute," he added.

The doctrine has recently been codified in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to which the Philippines is signatory. Sec. 28 of the Statute imposes individual responsibility on military commanders for crimes committed by forces under their control.

According to the doctrine of command responsibility, a superior may be held criminally responsible for a crime committed by his subordinates if it is proven that despite his awareness of the crimes of subordinates, he fails to fulfil his duties to prevent and punish these crimes.

To hold a person criminally responsible under the doctrine, these three requirements must be proven:

(i) A relationship of superior-subordinate linking the accused and those who committed the underlying offences at the time of the commission of the crime;

(ii) The knowledge on the part of the superior that his subordinates have committed or taken a culpable part in the commission of a crime or are about to do so; and

(iii) A failure on the part of the superior to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent ("duty to prevent") or to punish those crimes ("duty to punish").

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