As commander in chief of the military, President Benigno Aquino III may be charged before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the death of 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said on Monday.
“Well, anyone who thinks that President Aquino should assume command responsibility as commander in chief of the military and the armed forces of the Philippines, may file a complaint in the International Criminal Court, ” Santiago said at a press conference in the Senate.
She said the ICC, which she said hears cases against heads of the state and top-ranking military commanders, will conduct a preliminary investigation and the prosecution will have to determine first “whether all the elements are necessary to sue him formally before the court.”
Under the principle of command responsibility, Santiago said, the person who ordered the soldiers to be present in the arena of combat was “equally responsible” with ordinary soldier or some other minor officials.
Santiago added that under Philippine law, military officials responsible for the death of the SAF men would have to go to court martial while civilians liable for the incident would have to be prosecuted under the Penal Code.
The senator shared other people’s sentiments that the President raised more questions when he addressed the nation on the Mamasapano incident last Wednesday.
“Sa ngayon, hindi natin mababalewala na pagkatapos ng talumapti ng Pangulo sa television, maraming pagtatanong ang lumitaw. Sa halip na masagot ang pagtatanong, mas marami pang lumitaw (na katanungan). It raised more questions than answers,” Santiago said.
“For example, what was the direct line of command between the President and the operator? It’s not clear whether he just approved of the operation at the very start and then let it have its own life or while he approved of this particular operation. And if so, whose advice was he taking and what precautions were taken to protect the life of each of these almost uniformly very young policemen? asked the senator.
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