MANILA, Philippines – During the 4th Senate hearing on the Mamasapano clash on Monday, February 23, Senator Teofisto Guingona III asked Justice Secretary Leila de Lima about Malacañang’s defense that the principle of command responsibility does not apply to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Senators and observers pointed out that command responsibility was violated in the Mamasapano mission because PNP Officer in Charge Leonardo Espina and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II were kept in the dark. Then Special Action Force (SAF) Director Getulio Napeñas and suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima reported directly to President Benigno Aquino III.
De Lima said: “The chain of command in the strictest sense is a military construct. The PNP as a civilian agency is part of executive branch. It doesn’t apply.”
Yet Guingona cited Executive Order 226 issued by President Fidel Ramos in 1995. It states that command responsibility applies to the PNP, too.
Section 1 of the order states that: “Any government official or supervisor, or officer of the Philippine National Police or that of any other law enforcement agency shall be held accountable for ‘Neglect of Duty’ under the doctrine of ‘command responsibility’ if he has knowledge that a crime or offense shall be committed, is being committed, or has been committed by his subordinates, or by others within his area of responsibility and, despite such knowledge, he did not take preventive or corrective action either before, during, or immediately after its commission.”
De Lima tried to address Guingona’s question by distinguishing between what she called “superior authority” and command responsibility.
“Superior authority is broader. Command responsibility applies only to AFP,” De Lima said.
Guingona asked De Lima to study the executive order closely. “This executive order institutionalizes command responsibility in the PNP.”
In a press briefing last February 11, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda quoted De Lima to defend Aquino from allegations that he broke the chain of command in the PNP.
Lacierda said then: “You must remember that the Philippine National Police under the Constitution is civilian in character, so what you’re saying – what you’re presupposing is that there’s a chain of command that was being observed. But clearly, Leila de Lima already mentioned yesterday that the PNP, being civilian in character, has no such thing." – Ayee Macaraig/Rappler
Below is the full text of Executive Order 226, series of 1995, signed by President Ramos. The senator's father, Teofisto Guingona Jr, was then executive secretary:
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES
EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 226
INSTITUTIONALIZATION OF THE DOCTRINE OF
“COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY” IN ALL GOVERNMENT OFFICES,
PARTICULARLY AT ALL LEVELS OF COMMAND IN THE PHILIPPINE
NATIONAL POLICE AND OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
WHEREAS, strict and effective management and control of an organization by the supervisor is critical in ensuring responsive delivery of services by the government, especially in police matters;
WHEREAS, a supervisor/commander is duty-bound and, as such, is expected to closely monitor, supervise, direct, coordinate, and control the overall activities of his subordinates within his area of jurisdiction, and can be held administratively accountable for neglect of duty in taking appropriate action to discipline his men;
WHEREAS, in order to ensure a more effective, sustained, and successful campaign against erring government personnel, it is imperative that the doctrine of “command responsibility” be institutionalized and strictly applied in all government offices and at all levels of command in the PNP and other law enforcement agencies.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, FIDEL V. RAMOS, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by law, do hereby order:
SECTION 1. Neglect of Duty Under the Doctrine of “Command Responsibility”. Any government official or supervisor, or officer of the Philippine National Police or that of any other law enforcement agency shall be held accountable for “Neglect of Duty” under the doctrine of “command responsibility” if he has knowledge that a crime or offense shall be committed, is being committed, or has been committed by his subordinates, or by others within his area of responsibility and, despite such knowledge, he did not take preventive or corrective action either before, during, or immediately after its commission.
SECTION 2. Presumption of Knowledge. A government official or supervisor, or PNP commander, is presumed to have knowledge of the commission of irregularities or criminal offenses in any of the following circumstances:
a. When the irregularities or illegal acts are widespread within his area of jurisdiction;
b. When the irregularities or illegal acts have been repeatedly or regularly committed within his area of responsibility; or
c. When members of his immediate staff or office personnel are involved.
SEC. 3. Implementing Rules and Regulations. The National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) in coordination with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) shall promulgate the necessary rules and regulations of this Executive Order within thirty (30) days after the issuance thereof.
SEC. 4. Administrative Liability. Any violation of this Executive Order by any government official, supervisor, officer of the PNP and that of any law enforcement agency shall be held administratively accountable for violation of existing laws, rules and regulations.
SEC. 5. Effectivity. This Executive Order shall take effect immediately.
DONE in the City of Manila this 17th day of February, in the year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and ninety-five.
(Sgd.) FIDEL V. RAMOS
By the President:
(Sgd.) TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA JR.