MANILA, Philippines- In a press conference on Monday, February 2, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said that President Benigno Aquino II may be criminally charged for the deadly clash between the Philippine National Police- Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that took place on January 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
The encounter resulted to deaths of 44 SAF men.
In her statement, Santiago said anyone can file a complaint against PNoy in the International Criminal Court. She added that anyone is qualified to file the complaint as long as the person has an “active, legitimate interest in the outcome of the case”.
Santiago explained that under the ICC Rome Charter, Aquino as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the military may be held criminally liable if he had knowledge about the crimes his subordinates were about to commit or he failed to take all required and reasonable measures to prevent the commission of crimes.
The feisty senator also stressed that the President’s speech given last week, in which he revealed he had knowledge about the operations, set people more confused about the incident.
“It was not clear whether he just approved the operation at the very start and then let it have its own life or he approved the particular operation. If so, whose advice is he taking and what precautions were taken to protect the life of these almost uniformly very young police?”
Principle of Command Responsibility: Inapplicable to PNoy
Meanwhile, Senate President Franklin Drilon disagreed with Santiago’s statement regarding PNoy liability on the Mamasapano incident.
Drilon told reporters: “In this particular case, the Special Action Force of the PNP was there to serve a warrant of arrest not to commit any crime. So the principle of command responsibility has no application to make President Aquino liable under the Rome Statute.”
On Tuesday, February 3, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. also echoed Drilon’s statement. He emphasised that the principle of command responsibility was not applicable to the President in the Mamasapano case.