Whitewash and the need for the ICC


Its highly unlikely that attention-starved congressmen will agree to scrap the House of Representatives hearing of the Mamasapano massacre on their own.

To begin with, while the hearings in the bigger House were less composed when compared to the hearings in the Senate, more information came out of the lone House investigation.

Rep. Neri Colmenares singled out some of these new information, to wit: “a) the text message of Gen. Rustico Guerrero confirming that Pres. Aquino knew about the Mamasapano incident earlier on January 25, (b) the admission by Gen. Napeñas that Pres. Aquino knew about the time on target coordination and approved it which means Aquino agreed not to coordinate with the AFP beforehand, (c) the claim to executive privilege of Gen. Purisima, (d) the Medico Legal report emotionally described by Gen. Espina; and (e) the admission by Gen. Catapang that he did not inform Pres. Aquino even if they were together in Zamboanga that day”.

So why did the House suspend its hearing? The official reason is to avoid “prejudicial conclusions” since the official Board of Inquiry findings still have to be written.

But that reasoning is crap. Congress is never bound by the findings of any other investigative body. When Congress conducts an inquiry in aid of legislation, it is in the exercise of a plenary power that cannot be limited by any other branch of government. What is a legislative in purpose is also within the powers of Congress to define.

Moreover, Congress may also conduct investigations in the discharge of its power of oversight, that is, as holder of the power of the purse, it should ensure that government agencies are doing their job pursuant to the budget allotted to them. Hence, it was but proper that Congress inquire on whether the PNP, the AFP and the DILG spent tax payers wisely and correctly in this bloody police operation.

So why did the House suspend it proceedings? I think the truth is obvious. The PNoy administration, including its allies in the House of Representatives, are now afraid of the truth. Already, the subsequent Senate hearings on the matter indicate that the President clearly knew about the plan to capture Marwan et al in Mamasapano, that he continued to utilize the services of the suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima in connection therewith, and that confidentiality was required because they knew that even the AFP, with its leadership committed to the Peace talks with the MILF, might leak information that may prove detrimental to the capture of the high value targets.

Questions are now being asked on when the President knew that the SAF 44 were under siege. The question which has not been asked is why the President did not order the AFP to provide reinforcement to the besieged 55th Company of the SAF and why? Many, including I, surmise that the President, like AFP Chief of Staff Catapang, played God and decided to sacrifice the lives of the SAF 44 in order to protect the ceasefire with the MILF.

There too is the question of why US operatives were involved in the operation beyond the giving of the $6 million bounty for Marwan, dead or alive. While many shrug off the American involvement as necessary since we do not have the technology to acquire the proper intelligence information required by the operation, the reality is that the 1987 Constitution prohibits even just the presence of foreign troops, bases and facilities in the country after the termination of the US-Philippine Bases Agreement in 1991. The only way these foreign troops can be in the country is through a treaty duly concurred not by a mere majority of the members of our Senate , but by 2/3 of all its members, and even ratified by the plebiscite by the people themselves, when so required by the Senate. And these stringent requirements is only for the purpose of allowing foreign troops, bases and facilities in our territory. Compliance with the imperative requirements is not even sufficient to allow foreigners to be engaged in actual police or battle operations in our country. Such is absolutely prohibited because such an involvement would simply violate both Philippine sovereignty and jurisdiction. Full stop.

So what now? The House has suspended its hearing and the senators, on the other hand, appear complicit in hiding the truth from the people by holding its hearings in “executive sessions”. Clearly, the Senate, in doing so, although clearly more independent than the House, appears to be susceptible nonetheless to palace cajoling to keep the truth from the people.

I have said from the beginning that where political considerations, both of the selfish and the policy types, i.e., the necessity of proceeding with the peace talks, come into the way of the fight against impunity, the country must utilize the full benefits its membership in the International Criminal Court. The Court was established, and we joined the Court, precisely because those who violate the most important norms of international law, such as those who commit war crimes, should be prosecuted, no matter what. The ICC prosecutor, would moreover, have the proven expertise to investigate these possible war crimes when compared to the DOJ Prosecutors that has zero experience in this regard. Besides, with the Maguindanao massacre prosecution in limbo after almost six years, coupled with the DOJ’s 1-percent conviction rate in the prosecution of extra-legal killings, its clear that our legal system is simply both unable and unwilling to investigate the leadership and men of the MILF for the possible war crimes committed against the SAF44 and the Filipino people.

Time to seek aid from the international community. Lets refer the Mamasapano massacre to the ICC!

Breach of chain of command?


Its now apparent that in an effort to shield President Aquino from blame in the death of the SAF 44, administration spin doctors have been pinning the blame for the fiasco on both former PNP Chief Alan Purisima and SAF Chief Getulio Napenas. Of course the two, undoubtedly, have lots to answer for. But palace spin masters would now want us to believe that only the two should be held responsible for the fiasco.

This cannot be the case. While palace supporters belabor the point that both allegedly “broke the chain of command” when they did not inform DILG Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP OIC Leonardo Espina about Oplan Exodus, the reality is the two did not have to. To begin with, Mar Roxas is not part of the chain of command. As DILG Secretary, his involvement with the PNP is only as Chairman of the National Police Commission. This means he has supervision over the PNP only to the extent that he should ensure that the police are doing their job. He does not have control, operational or otherwise, because this clearly belongs to the Chief PNP and the other officers in the PNP hierarchy. In law, control means the power to substitute a superior’s discretion to those of his subordinates.

Anent OIC Espina, the truth is that there cannot also be a breach of the chain of command there precisely because rightfully or not, General Purisima was reporting to the President, the ultimate Commander-in-Chief. Moreover, although he was suspended, the reality is that he remained the Chief of the PNP and the highest-ranking officer of the police force.

What does this mean? Simply put, the buck stops with the President. Perhaps, we can fault both Purisima and Napenas for failing to comply with the President’s directive to coordinate with the Armed Forces. This can amount to insubordination and gross negligence. But because the President himself authorized the mission on a “time-on-target” basis, this means that liability for the fiasco rests on the President himself.

Time-on-target is military jargon when the means and methods of a mission have been agreed upon even if the actual date of implementation is not known. This also means that others on the field will be informed when the mission is implemented. Make no mistake about it. The decision to invade the MILF lair to capture two high-level terrorists on a time-on-target basis as implemented by the SAF was a decision of the President himself. Full stop.

In any case, the on-going Senate investigation has also confirmed many of our worst fears. To begin with, there is the fact that the Armed Forces should and could have sent in reinforcements but did not. So far, the justification of AFP Chief of Staff Gregorio Pio Catapang, whom I want jailed for indirect contempt of Court, is because “the PNP did not ask for reinforcement”. Ergo, the Chief of Staff, who has not been shy about his Senate aspirations- wants, in the words of one senator, “ a drowning man to cry for help”. In reality, when one is drowning, one is already unable to utter a word and hence the failure to seek assistance.

The situation was no different from when the Maguindanao massacre took place. In 2009, the AFP leadership in the same area  turned down the request of the murdered journalists for military assistance in covering the ill-fated filing of Esmael Mangudadatu’s certificate of candidacy. Moreover, even after knowing about the build-up of Ampatuan supporters in the intersection where the victims of the massacre where rounded up, the same military leadership did not do anything even as to inquire why there was a build up consisting of heavily armed men in an area where there is an  on-going armed conflict. In other words, the AFP did nothing- then and now-  because they opted to turn blind eyes and deaf ears to their colleagues from the PNP.

The more interesting question now is: “Why?” Well, on the basis of the Senate hearing, Senate wannabe Catapang said that it was because of the peace process. And pray tell me: who told the Chief of Staff that he could play God to determine that the SAF 44 should die so that Ging Deles and Miriam Ferrer could gloat that they were responsible for peace in Mindanao? Utterly ridiculous, absurd, and even insane!

So what now? Well, in ancient times this was an instance that would merit the rolling out of the guillotine. Fortunately for all the misfits responsible for the untimely heroism of the SAF44, public indignation appears more painful today than the guillotine. And yes, they deserve it!

P Noy: Not command responsibility but gross incompetence


I’m happy that Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, the best President that we never had, agreed with my view that International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is applicable to the Mamasapano massacre that led to the heroism of the SAF 44. The good senator concurred with our view when she opined that President Aquino may be held liable on the basis of command responsibility.

IHL is the law applicable in times of armed conflict. It exists to protect civilians and other non-combatants from the adverse consequences of armed conflict. It achieves this goal by according non-combatants protection and by limiting the means and methods of warfare open to all combatants and fighters.

“Command responsibility” is a principle in IHL developed in the Philippines as a result of the trial of Yamashita, the highest-ranking Japanese officer in Southeast Asia at the end of World War II. When Yamashita was accused of war crimes, he put forth the defense, among others, that he did not know and did not order the atrocities complained about. The Philippine Supreme Court rejected this argument ruling that Yamashita willfully turned a blind eye to these atrocities. According to the Court, Yamashita should have developed a sound system where he could ensure that his troops knew the law and that they were in compliance with it.

On appeal to the US Supreme Court, a separate opinion formulated what today would be the principle of command responsibility. This is that a commander should be liable for the atrocities committed by his subordinates when he knew or should have known about the authorities, and he failed to take steps to prevent the crimes from happening, and fails to take steps to investigate, prosecute and punish them for these crimes.

Where I differ though from Senator Santiago is in her opinion that PNoy could be held liable for command responsibility.

My disagreement with the senator is not because I think the President should be absolved completely of command responsibility . In fact, on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre, I submitted the view, which was supported by the current UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, that the 1-percent conviction rate our prosecutors have in convicting perpetrators of extra-legal killings may be a basis for holding the President liable under command responsibility since he has failed to prosecute and punish the perpetrators of the extra-legal killings in this country. Instead, my view is that PNoy should probably be held responsible for the massacre of the SAF 44 since he is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP, but not under the principle of command responsibility.

Why? Simply put, command responsibility under IHL may be used only against commanders and superiors of troops that may have committed grave breaches of IHL, the laws and customs of warfare. In the Mamasapano massacre, the sheer discrepancy in terms of the body count indicate that the SAF 44 may not have been engaged in battle; instead, what may have happened was a slaughter. What made matters worse is the fact that the slaughter must have resulted from our policemen’s wrong assumption that even if they are fighters in the territory of a domestic armed group, they will not be attacked because of an on-going ceasefire between our government and the MILF. This is the crime of perfidy or inviting the confidence of fighters that they have protected status and proceeding to attack them anyway. Moreover, the death count suggests that the MILF may have issued the order not to leave any survivors as in fact, there was only one who managed to escape the carnage. This again is a war crime since giving such an order is expressly prohibited by IHL and is furthermore contrary to the concept of military necessity and military objective.  The object of warfare is the compete submission of the enemy and not to kill all of the adversaries. The inhumanity done to the corpses of our heroes is yet another war crime—that of cruel, degrading and humiliating treatment.

Simply put, it is the leadership of the MILF that should be held criminally liable under command responsibility since their troops probably committed the war crimes. To reiterate, PNoy could not be held responsible under the principle because it is neither the PNP nor the AFP that committed the crimes.  If at all, his liability is that of a commander-in-chief who must take responsibility for a police manhunt that turned awry.

This should not at all absolve PNoy from liability for the death of the SAF 44. If in the past, the ineptitude and inexperience of this government have led to bad policies, his lapse in governance this time around should not go unpunished.

It’s time for his bosses to make their decision. I say we fire him for gross incompetence, a valid ground for loss of trust and confidence.

New SC resolution on DAP a shocking reversal


Statement of Prof. Harry L. Roque and Atty. Roger R. Rayel, counsel for Grecor Belgica, et al, on the Supreme Court’s new resolution on DAP:

“The new resolution of the High Court on the Disbursement Acceleration Fund (DAP) is a shocking reversal of the constitutional safeguards on the use of public funds and a virtual stamp of approval on the de facto appropriation by the Executive without the benefit of congressional review.

While preserving two main holdings in its original ruling, the High Court’s decision to reverse itself on the third point – the funding of projects, activities and programs that were not covered by any appropriation in the General Appropriations Act” – just about restores a wide swath of un-appropriated and not legislatively considered expenditures to the sole discretion of the Chief Executive.

This defeats the whole purpose of giving the power of the purse to the legislature. Precisely, a wide array of expenditures under the DAP have been made outside the General Appropriations Act. For all intents and purposes, the reversal by the Supreme Court reinstates and legitimizes the Presidential Pork Barrel System without benefit of congressional approval and oversight.

It is also surprising that the High Court appears to have made a new distinction between authors on the one hand, and proponents and implementers on the other hand, and in addition making criminal liability prospective as regards the latter. This is as if the constitutional provision stating that no money shall be paid out of the treasury without an appropriation made by law is not clear enough. This cannot be prospective.

We will file a Motion for Reconsideration of this Resolution within the period provided by the Rules.”

Manifestation with Urgent Motion to set Arraignment


Click here for the pdf copy of the Manifestation with Urgent Motion to set Arraignment filed by Marilou Laude, via counsel, on Janury 29, 2015 at the Olongapo RTC.

Republic of the Philippines
THIRD JUDICIAL REGION
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT
Branch 74, Olongapo City

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Plaintiff,

Criminal Case No. 865-14
For: Murder

– versus –

L/CPL JOSEPH SCOTT PEMBERTON,
Accused.
X—————————————–X

MANIFESTATION with
URGENT MOTION TO SET ARRAIGNMENT

PRIVATE COMPLAINANT MARILOU S. LAUDE, by counsel, respectfully files this Manifestation with Urgent Motion to Set Arraignment, and states that:

1. Accused Pemberton filed a Motion to Defer Proceedings dated 18 December 2014

2. Thereafter, the Honorable Court acquired jurisdiction over accused L/CPL Joseph Scott Pemberton (accused Pemberton) when he personally appeared before the Honorable Court on 19 December 2014 pursuant to a warrant of arrest.

3. On 23 December 2014, the Honorable Court issued an Order granting accused Pemberton’s Motion to Defer Proceedings, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:

“IN VIEW THEREOF, the Motion to Defer Proceedings is hereby GRANTED, and the proceedings are suspended for a period of sixty (60) days, or until such time that this court is furnished with a copy of the resolution of appeal by petition for review filed by the accused with the Department of Justice, whichever is earlier.

SO ORDERED.” (Emphasis supplied)

4. On 6 January 2015, Private Complainant Laude filed her Comment/Opposition to the Petition for Review filed by accused Pemberton before the Department of Justice.

5. On 27 January 2015, the Department of Justice issued a Resolution DENYING the Petition for Review filed by Accused Pemberton, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:

“WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition for review is hereby DENIED.

SO ORDERED.”

6. Therefore, the order of this Honorable Court suspending the proceedings in the instant case should be lifted pursuant to the Order, dated 23 December 2014, which states that the proceedings in the instant case are suspended until such time that the Honorable Court is furnished with a copy of the resolution with respect to the Petition for Review filed by Accused Pemberton.

7. On 29 January 2015, Private Complainant Laude, through counsel, received a copy of the Manifestation with Omnibus Motion, dated 28 January 2015, filed by the Honorable Public Prosecutors praying for the lifting of the Honorable Court’s Order for the deferment of the proceedings, dated 23 December 2014, and immediate arraignment of the Accused Pemberton on 05 February 2015, among other things.

8. In view of the foregoing, Private Complainant Laude respectfully joins the request of the Honorable Public Prosecutors and respectfully prays that the Honorable Court lift the order suspending the proceedings in view of the dismissal of the Petition for Review filed by Accused Pemberton.

9. Furthermore, Private Complainant Laude further prays that Honorable Court set the arraignment of Accused Pemberton on 5 February 2015 at 2:00 pm, or at the earliest possible date and time in accordance with Section 1(g) of Rule 116 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.

PRAYER

WHEREFORE, premises considered, Private Complainant respectfully prays that the Honorable Court lift the Order, dated 23 December 2014, suspending the proceedings in the instant case and set the arraignment of Accused Pemberton on 5 February 2015 at 2:00 pm, or at the earliest possible date and time.

All other reliefs as are just and deemed equitable are also prayed for.

Makati City for the Olongapo City. 29 January 2015.

By the Counsel for Private Complainant:

ROQUE & BUTUYAN LAW OFFICES
1904 Antel 2000 Corporate Center
121 Valero Street, Salcedo Village
Makati City 1200
Email: mail@roquebutuyan.com
Tel. Nos. 887-4445/887-3894; Fax No: 887-3

By:

H. HARRY L. ROQUE, JR.
Roll No. 36976
PTR No. 4264493|Jan. 04, 2011|Makati City
IBP No. 01749|Lifetime
MCLE Exemption No. IV-000513
(issued on Feb. 15, 2013 )

GILBERT T. ANDRES
Roll No. 56911
PTR No.4264862|Jan. 30, 2014|Makati City
IBP No. 961460|Jan. 29, 2014|Negros Occ.
MCLE Compliance No. IV-0011824
(issued on Jan. 25, 2013)

CHARLAINE E. LATORRE
Roll No. 62890
PTR No. 4386325|May 23, 2014|Makati City
IBP No. 968977|April 22, 2014| Cavite
Admitted to the Bar: 06 May 2014•

By:

VIRGINIA LACSA SUAREZ
Collaborating Counsel for Private Complainant
LABOR ADVOCATES FOR WORKERS’
SERVICES (LAWS INC.)
Roll No. 41145
Lifetime IBP Member-LRN 05283
PTR No. 4232794|Jan. 7, 2014|Makati City
MCLE Compliance NO. IV-0022951
(issued on July 6, 2013)
3rd Floor MKP Bldg., No. 22 Libertad St.
Mandaluyong City 1550
CP/Tel. NO. 09088159923/531-07-86/87

REQUEST FOR AND NOTICE OF HEARING

The Honorable Clerk of Court
Regional Trial Court
Branch 74, Olongapo City

Atty. Rowena Garcia Flores and
Atty. Benjamin Tolosa, Jr.
9K The Fort Residences
30th Street corner 2nd Avenue
Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City
Taguig, Metro Manila

Please take notice that undersigned Counsel will submit the foregoing Manifestation with Motion for the consideration and approval of the Honorable Court immediately upon receipt without further argument from counsel.

Also, this Manifestation with Motion is served on the opposing party by registered mail in accordance with Section 11, Rule 13 of the Rules of Court due to distance, time constraint, and lack of messengerial services.

CHARLAINE E. LATORRE

Copy Furnished:

Pros. Emilie Fe M. Delos Santos
Counsel for the People
Office of the City Prosecutor
Olongapo City

Atty. Rowena Garcia Flores and
Atty. Benjamin Tolosa, Jr.
9K The Fort Residences
30th Street corner 2nd Avenue
Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City
Taguig, Metro Manila

Professor H. Harry L. Roque’s statement on the arrest of Mayor Binay:


The Senate order to arrest Mayor Junjun Binay comes at a time when the country is in deep national mourning over the massacre of so many of our police heroes. It comes at a time when the people await complete and transparent explanation from its leaders on the true circumstances why our bravest and most patriotic sons in the police force were recklessly sent to the slaughterhouse and murdered like animals. It comes at a time when the highest officials of our nation face accounting of their   active participation and liability in these tragic loss of so many young and promising lives.

At a time when the investigative resources and powers of the government should be rightfully summoned and devoted to uncovering what happened in this massacre, it saddens me to notice   the deafening silence of the Senate leadership on the   need for a Senate investigation, even after the President   himself and police generals   have admitted reckless lapses committed in sending   our police martyrs to   certain death.

At a time when the undivided attention of the people should be left concentrated on   this national tragedy   because it crucially comes in the midst of pending   deliberations on the Bangsamoro Basic Law — this tragedy is presenting itself as the litmus test   for the Senate to investigate the MILF’s true commitment to   real peace — the Senate has chosen to divert   the people’s attention to an overly-drawn and extended investigation on Mayor Binay.

By ordering the arrest of Mayor Binay at this time, the Senate has inevitably chosen to divide the people’s   crucial attention and deflect full public scrutiny and accountability of our leaders and the MILF on the national tragedy that has left grieving parents, anguished widows, and wretched orphans.

In choosing to divert public attention on an arrested Mayor Binay,   the Senate has even   disregarded basic rules and has chosen to ignore Supreme Court admonitions on the indispensability of a quorum. With only three Senators out of a total membership of   20 Senators in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee,   the   mere three-members declared that they had the quorum to unilaterally act   for the 20-member Blue Ribbon Committee and issue an arrest order on Mayor Binay. This is   a blatant   violation of the most basic tenet of legislative bodies. How low can the Senate get in   twisting the definition of a quorum just to deflect attention from the most pressing issue of the day? If the Senate can redefine quorum to merely require   three members out of a total of 20,   what will prevent them from   declaring that a mere single Senator will constitute a quorum   who can order the arrest of any Juan, Pedro, or Mario?

As the accusations against Mayor Binay have repeatedly been branded as criminal anomalies by the Senators themselves, the accusations   should be rightfully ventilated in the judicial branch of government, and not used as a circus for media mileage and political assassination in the Senate.

I call upon the Senate to submit to the judiciary all the evidence it has against Mayor Binay and let the judiciary perform it rightful duty to assess responsibility,   find liability and   impose penalties. Unlike the judiciary which is mandated to find guilt or innocence, no matter how long drawn the Senate conducts any investigation, the Senate has no power to impose sanctions and penalties resulting from its findings.

I call upon the Senate to correctly make use of its   “investigation in aid of legislation” powers by summoning the leaders of the executive and military branches of government, and even the MILF, who were involved — regardless of   their   standing as   allies of the Senate leadership — in the Mamapasano massacre. This will be the correct use of the investigative powers of the senate “in aid of legislation” in connection with the pending Bangsamoro Basic Law.

War crime in Mamasapano


We can count on my kumadre, star reporter Christine “Mamu” Herrera of this newspaper, to scoop all other broadsheets and news outfits for the truth particularly on sensational stories such as the Mamasapano massacre that claimed the lives of no less than 40 members of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police. Now we know that the blame for the carnage lies with PNoy himself who was only too willing to please his American master to apprehend two of the most wanted terrorists in the list of the US State Department. It appears from Mamu’s report that the President authorized the mission and for all intents and purposes, only he, his most trusted PNP Chief Allan Purisima, and the Americans knew about the mission.

In fairness, blame for the carnage should not be put on PNoy alone. His partner in peace, or should we say in violence, the MILF, is equally to blame. PNoy wrongfully thought that because of the prevailing ceasefire, his newfound comrades would not engage and more so, massacre our men. He thought wrong.

And because PNoy was out to please his American benefactors to whom he has surrendered Philippine sovereignty through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, it is only but logical that four American GIs were sighted in the area. Obviously, since the Americans so badly wanted to capture the suspected terrorist as in fact, they offered a bounty of no less than two hundred sixty million pesos for their capture, it is but logical that Uncle Sam be on the ground to supervise the manhunt. And like PNoy, the Americans also did not anticipate that the MILF, because it has been receiving almost all of its Official Development Assistance intended for the country, would turn against the men that it has enticed to capture their enemy.

Clearly, the Mamasapano massacre has brought out a number of crucial policy issues that we, PNoy’s bosses, would now have to resolve. Foremost of these is the extent that we would go to serve America’s interests in the region. I have quite frankly, not heard of the two terrorists most wanted by the Americans until the massacre. Were the lives of more than 40 of our fellow Filipinos worth the botched effort to capture these alleged terrorists? I do not think so.

Another policy issues is: what were America’s most wanted terrorists doing in the territory controlled by the MILF? Why did we sign a peace agreement with a group known for harboring world-class terrorists? Long before this incident, veteran reporter Maria Ressa reported that the MILF has been allowing the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah to train and use its camps in Mindanao. Why did Ging Deles agree to channel billions of taxpayer’s money and to surrender Philippine sovereignty to a group that has long been notorious for harboring world-class terrorists?

There too is the issue of the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity. I have to disclose that I have been engaged by two groups to question this agreement as soon as Congress legislate the required enabling legislation. But outside the constitutional issues arising from the agreement, the even bigger obstacle now is the ability of the MILF to comply with its obligations under the peace agreement. At a time when both the PNoy administration and the MILF are courting both the support of Congress and the sovereign people to support this unconstitutional accord, the MILF, with no rhyme or reason, proceed to massacre our men. Can you imagine what they are capable of doing when they have already gotten their sub-state, legitimized their armed forces, and after they could legitimately receive funding from their Muslim supporters abroad? They have proven themselves capable of committing the worst atrocities when they are craving for support. Clearly, they have also proven themselves capable of worst barbarity after we have given in to their demands and legitimized their existence. It is very sad that more than 40 of our men had to be martyred for us to accept the reality that the MILF simply cannot be trusted to maintain the peace.

It is now a foregone conclusion that any member of Congress who would still dare to support the proposed Bangsamoro law after the massacre is doomed. So the more pressing issue now is that of accountability. While we do not know yet the details of the massacre, it appears from the disproportionate number of casualties from both sides: 40 dead in the PNP as against only 8 casualties for the MILF, that what happened to our men was not a military encounter, but a trap that led to the massacre. And because there was a prevailing ceasefire, it could be argued that the MILF must have employed perfidy, a war crime, since the MILF must have invited the confidence of our men that the peace pact means that they will not be attacked in their territory. So the question n everyone’s mind now, including our Chief Justice who called on everyone to adhere to the rule of law, is whether the MILF and its men will be prosecuted for the war crime of perfidy punishable under International Humanitarian Law ?

Certainly, Ging Deles and Miriam Ferrer would both object to such prosecution while the peace accord is still in place. If so, then perhaps we should make our first country referral to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

Let us honor the memories of our fallen heroes by enjoining the public to utilize the rule of law against the MILF and prosecute its leadership for war crimes.

Enough is enough.

This post first appeared in http://manilastandardtoday.com/2015/01/29/war-crime-in-mamasapano/.