Pangan: On command responsibility

At Close Range

PERSONS of authority holds moral influence over their subordinates and other lesser persons. The term command responsibility may be used broadly to refer to the duty to supervise subordinates and liability for the failure to do so, both in government and military law and with regard to operations and trusts.

Per inquiry at Wikipedia, command responsibility was established by the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, partly based on the American lieber code, a war manual for the Union forces signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, applied

for the first time by the German Supreme Court at the Leipzig war crimes trials after World War I in the 1921 trial of Emil Muller.

The doctrine dates back to the time of Sun Tzu as it was argued that it was a commander's duty to ensure that his subordinates conducted themselves in a civilized manner during an armed conflict. It was earlier cited in the Bible as the one who ordered the killing of someone who bears the brunt of the offense.

The lieber code explains that the accountability is observed by imposing command responsibility on commanders for ordering or encouraging soldiers to wound or kill already disabled enemies.

On a more sober vein, command responsibility is invoked in the matter of ninja cops or rogue police officers who recycle or sell their confiscated illegal drugs which they are required to surrender to the higher and proper authorities.

Their chief then, now PNP Director General, Oscar D. Albayalde is being blamed for the crimes committed by 13 police officers under him who absconded with the illegal drugs. Would Albayalde be held liable, following the principle of command responsibility?

Command responsibility, I believe, is more emphasized and followed strictly in the military. Again, quoting from online source, I quote: The fact that the functioning of the armed forces is based on a hierarchical relationship between soldiers and superior means that a subordinate may be punished for a breach of order or for not

following an order from his superior.

Command responsibility. It is a classic case of damned if you do, more damned if you don’t.

* * *

The recent hazing incident at the Philippine Military Academy resulting in the death of a fourth class cadet and later, to the serious injuries to two other cadets prompted the resignation of the institution's top officials, in observance of the principle of command responsibility.

This principle is sweeping and decisive. Whatever offenses or misconduct are committed by subordinates will cost the loss of face, posts and authority of the superiors or leaders. It is a one-sided situation, but it has been long observed, implemented and institutionalized. Whew!

* * *

The Fiesta Communities Homeowners Association board of directors and officers have implemented the clearing of roads of all sorts of obstruction. The members have been notified and talked to and even the president of the association has patiently approached each household to get the ascent before the removal or demolition of unnecessary structures on the subdivision roads. The board of directors is always

on the lookout for things to improve the subdivision's surroundings.


SunStar website welcomes friendly debate, but comments posted on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of the SunStar management and its affiliates. SunStar reserves the right to delete, reproduce or modify comments posted here without notice. Posts that are inappropriate will automatically be deleted.

Forum rules:

Do not use obscenity. Some words have been banned. Stick to the topic. Do not veer away from the discussion. Be coherent. Do not shout or use CAPITAL LETTERS!