Major Harold Cabunoc, the Army Spokesperson, said that the IPSP Bayanihan ROE cards contain the appropriate responses that are permitted in the employment of military personnel during operations or in the course of their duties.
"These procedures contained in the Bayanihan ROE card are determined by the legal framework within which these duties are being carried out. These procedures are derived from current Philippine laws as well as the Laws of Armed Conflict that are determined to apply during military operations," Cabunoc said.
As the former commander of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division based in Panay island, Bautista has already implemented the wearing of the ROE cards among his subordinates since last year.
"The Rules of Engagement (ROE) provide those who give political direction to military operations with a degree of confidence that the actions of military personnel are conducted within a legally defensible framework. They provide commanders and personnel with a clearly delineated set of responsibilities and operational constraints," Bautista said, adding that the policy is part of the security sector reform as embodied in the IPSP Bayanihan.
All Army soldiers are now wearing two sets of laminated ROE cards which are written in English and Tagalog. Soldiers in garrisons attach the cards to their office ID while those in the field either wear it together with their 'dog tags' or
put it inside their wallets.
The 1st Scout Ranger Battalion led by Lt Col Ariel Felicidario is among the first units who complied Bautista's directive. Based in Negros Occidental, his elite unit is operating under the control of the 3rd Infantry Division.
"Upon hearing the verbal directive of Gen Bautista, I immediately ordered my troops to bring the ROE cards with them 24/7. I have also explained to them the provisions contained in the said card and my sub-unit commanders are required to conduct repetitive indoctrination to all soldiers from time to time," said Felicidario.
Felicidario likewise said that he had seen the positive effects of the policy based on the performance of his troops in the field.
"I am proud to say that there are no single cases of human rights violations in Negros Island since the time that the soldiers are well-informed on their correct behavior in combat. I will ensure that this effort is sustained in my unit," he added.
Bayanihan continues as holiday truce ends
Meanwhile, the soldiers are expected to resume their peace and development missions in the remote villages as the unilaterally-declared holiday truce ends today, Jan 2.
The soldiers are also warned to be security-conscious for possible NPA attacks that have killed some members the lightly-armed community organizing and peace development (COPD) teams in Surigao del Sur last month.
“Our soldiers will also continue to defend the communities against the enemy’s armed aggression. It is part of our mandate to apply the legitimate force against those who insist to disturb the peace in the countryside,” said Cabunoc.
Recently, the soldiers received accolades for their invaluable help extended to the victims of heavy flooding in northern Mindanao region.
Aside from immediate deployment of disaster search and rescue teams, the soldiers also brought hundreds of tons of relief goods to the affected communities in support to the local government.
Answering to the calls from the Army and the local government, several stakeholders from unaffected regions including OFWs readily sent relief items showing the true spirit of Bayanihan.
"In the name of Bayanihan, we also call on our brothers from the CNN to consider laying down their arms and help pursue the elusive peace that we all yearn to achieve. There are many ways to resolve this conflict without resorting to violence," concludes Cabunoc.