Last May 24-28, 2021, the National Prosecution Service - Special Projects Division-2 (NPS-SPD-2) delivered the 2nd Prosecutors’ Specialization Course on International Humanitarian Law (PSCIHL) to Regional Prosecutors and Provincial Prosecutors in areas where there are International Humanitarian Law (IHL)-designated courts. This unique composition of twenty-three (23) participants was conceptualized due to the role of the Regional Prosecutors and the Chiefs of Offices in the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC). The training course was opened by Undersecretary Adrian Ferdinand S. Sugay, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Hazel C. Decena-Valdez of SPD-2 and Mr. Dany Merhy, the Head of Prevention of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Usec. Sugay underscored the importance of the role of prosecutors to ensure that armed conflicts are properly and correctly viewed and perceived and that all those who elect to breach the limits set by law are accordingly prosecuted and penalized.
During the interactive training course, the participants learned about the basic concepts of IHL and the three domestic IHL—RA 9851, RA 11188 and RA 10530. Guided by the three (3) training principles of adult learning, peer learning and learning by doing, the participants actively participated in the learning activities and shared their thoughts for possible policies when faced with issues in handling IHL cases such as jurisdiction, evidence gathering, security concerns, among others. The participants were also able to experience first-hand the current learning management system (LMS) used by NPS-SPD-2 in its training courses as provided by the International Development Law Organization (IDLO).
In one of the closing speeches, Provincial Prosecutor Nestor Tolentino of Abra said that given the challenges in filing violations of international humanitarian law such as the security concerns due to the identities of the personalities involved and especially so that his office experienced being attacked by unknown armed men, prosecutors must muster enough courage to charge violators of IHL because prosecutors must do the right thing. Likewise, Prosecutor General Benedicto A. Malcontento, stressing the rights of victims and the rule of law, encouraged prosecutors to boldly exact accountability of violators of IHL by handling these cases more effectively and competently. PG Malcontento also emphasized that a violation of IHL is more than just a crime. It is a serious violation of basic human rights and an affront to human dignity.
The PSCIHL is one of several training courses delivered by NPS-SPD-2 and the technical working group composed of trainers-prosecutors from all over the Philippines. The ICRC is the partner institution of the NPS in the development of this course.