International humanitarian law in the Philippines Supreme Court
Sedfrey M. Candelaria
Asia-Pacific perspectives on international humanitarian law
Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2020
The application of international humanitarian law (IHL) by Philippine courts may be appreciated in two stages of the country’s political history. The belligerent occupation of the Philippine Islands by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II provided the background for the institution of test cases which called for the Philippine Supreme Court’s resolution of constitutional issues complexed with IHL principles. The cases chosen by the present writer illustrate the Court’s creative use of IHL principles to cases of first impression. After the war, the issues in a post-colonial setting revolved around the emergence of non-State actors and their struggle for self-determination along religious and ideological grounds. Both these latter categories of non-international armed conflict (NIAC) are treated as rebellion in domestic law, and crimes involved have been addressed as domestic crimes such as murder, albeit sometimes some can be subsumed within others.1 The interplay of constitutionalism with IHL, domestic law and new laws related to terrorism and armed conflict, occasioned by novel cases filed before the Supreme Court, provides an insight on how this domestic court carefully nuanced the application of international law to concrete domestic concerns.2 In these cases, we can also see that prosecutors and law enforcement officers have both contended with the characterisation of the violations arising from the armed conflict for the purpose of defining the proper charges before the regular courts. This survey of relevant jurisprudence aims at shedding light on the various complex issues to which the justice system in the Philippines had been exposed to when dealing with several armed conflicts in the nation’s history.
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