The National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP), in partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) (through the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Education, Training, and Doctrine (OJ8), as well as the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Philippines, conducted the first Operational Law Rules of Engagement (OPLAW ROE) Workshop, 2nd OPLAW Course for Senior Officials, and the 11th OPLAW Seminar: Legal Dimensions of Military Operations from 19 February to 3 March 2023.
The 1st OPLAW ROE, held on 19-21 February 2023, aimed to overcome shortfalls and provide a basis for the development of mission-specific ROE. It also covered discussions on the process of authorization and implementation of ROE by higher authorities.
Meanwhile, the 2nd OPLAW Course for Senior Officials, conducted on 21-24 February 2023, provided high-ranking civilian and military leaders a sound understanding of the international legal framework applicable to military operations in times of armed conflict, crisis, and peace.
Now on its 11th batch, the OPLAW Seminar: Legal Dimension of Military Operations, which took place from 26 February to 3 March 2023, trained mid-level military and civilian officials on the legalities and obligations as well as practical applications of the laws of armed conflict to military operations in the context of international and non-international armed conflicts.
Among the most notable participants was the Honorable Hussein Palma Muñoz, Minister for Public Order and Safety of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Representatives from the AFP, the Judge Advocate General Service (JAGS), the Corps of Professors (COP), and the Department of National Defense (DND) participated in the workshop. Other participants also included officials from the Bangsamoro Parliament, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), National Security Council (NSC), Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Balaod Mindanao, and the Balay Mindanaw Foundation Inc. (BMFI)
The sessions were administered by world-renowned authorities in the law of armed conflict: Cdr (Ret) Thomas Boelkhe of the German Armed Forces Command and Staff College and Prof. Dr. Wolff Heintschel Von Heinegg of the Europa-Universitat Viadrina. Local subject matter experts and national security practitioners who delivered lectures and facilitated the workshops were Commo Roy V Trinidad PN, BGen Joel Alejandro Nacnac PA, Col Vener Malabanan JAGS, Prof. Jay Batongbacal, and LtC Dhylyne Enchon Espejo JAGS.
In his remarks during the graduation ceremony of the 11th OPLAW Seminar, the NDCP President, LtGen Ferdinand M Cartujano PAF (Ret), lauded the participants’ active engagement in diverse and thought-provoking discussions and exercises. He also expressed his hopes of having inculcated a culture of heightened appreciation in the participants for the topics discussed throughout the seminar. He also noted the importance of critical thinking and acting in accordance with the laws that protect humanity’s best interests, especially among active members of the defense sector.