Philippines: 19 AFP lawyers trained to apply the rules of war while providing legal advice

Brig. Gen. Erwin Victoriano Machica III, Judge Advocate General, requested the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to conduct the training, held from 6 to 24 November 2023, at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. Those trained form the first batch to be sent to operational units to provide legal advice on the conduct of hostilities. Previously, JAGS officers were responsible for discipline and administration in AFP.

The course touched on pressing topics such as general principles of IHL regarding the regulation of weapons, detention during armed conflicts, protection of health care and the natural environment, domestic law on IHL and the law of naval warfare among others.

AFP Chief of International Law and Special Projects Col. Vener Malabanan III, Office of the Judge Advocate General (first row, fourth from left), head of ICRC legal team Kelisiana Thynne (first row, centre) and armed forces delegate of the ICRC Ricardo Lucero Jr. (far right) and other ICRC staff with the 19 newly appointed second lieutenants of the Judge Advocate General Service. Photo: L. Arada/ICRC

“The training aimed to ensure that participants understand the ICRC’s humanitarian mandate and role in ensuring the rules of war are respected, that they know what IHL is, can give advice on the basic principles on the conduct of hostilities and that they understand related domestic laws,” said Kelisiana Thynne, head of the ICRC’s legal department in the Philippines.

Judge Samina Sampaco Macabando-Usman

Resource person Judge Samina Sampaco Macabando-Usman, an IHL trainer from the Department of Justice, briefed participants about Republic Act 9851 which penalizes crimes against IHL, genocide and other crimes against humanity. Sessions also included role plays where JAGS members drafted rules of engagement or standard operating procedures for certain scenarios.

Source : Icrc