Philippine Military Justice

Military Law ReviewNbr. 29, July 1965

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Philippine Military Justice


This article gives a brief account of the court-martial system as it exists today in the Philippines and draws a comparison between the .4merican and Philippine systems. The discussion of Philippine military law, although limited in scope, is comprehensive enough to provide the reader with B working knowledge af Philippine military jurisprudence. Considerable emphasis has been placed on mud-martial procedure and allied subjects of major importance.

In a comparison of the two court-martial systems, it should be noted that the Philippine system was patterned after the American. Notwithstanding this American origin, the Philippine proce-dure differs in Some respects. It is these differences that will be studied.

11. SOURCES OF PHILIPPINE MILITARY LAWThe Philippines had a system of administering military justice as early as 1896 nhen the then Philippine Revolutionary Army established a couii-martial system to enforce discipline. The Philippine Revolutionary Army court-martial was of Spanish origin.' During the American regime, the Chief of Constabulary was empowered by law to punish summarily members of the organization for inefficiency, misconduct or disloyalty.* He was also authorized to designate a summary court officer in each Constabulary post or c~mmand.~

Upon the establishment of the Philippine Commonwealth, the National Assembly of the Philippines enacted Commonwealth Act No. 408 (approved on September 14, 1938) consisting of 120 articles. Essentially of American origin, the Phzlippine Arti-cles of War' are the counterpart of the American Articles of War.

*The opinions and condusions presented herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of The Judge Adroeate General'sSchool OT any other governmental agency.

**JAGS: Chief. Legal Services Branch, JAGO, GHQ AFP; I.L.B., 1838, Kniversity of Santo Tomas; member of the Philippine Bar.



MILITARY LAW 4 (185s).*Revmd Administrative Code of the Philippines 08 648, 856 (1917).2 Revmd Administrative Code of the Philippines 0 855 (1917) i Philippine Constabulary Manual. para. 282 (1930).

'Hereinafter cited ai AW, PA; see GLORIA. op. cit. supra note 1, at 8.

Commonwealth Act So. 408 was subsequently implemented by Executive Order So. 178 of December 17, 1938, and later amended by Republic Acts 242 and 616. The implementing executive order prescribes the rules of procedure, including modes of prmf in cases before courts-martial. courts of inquiry, military commissionãnd other tribunals. These rules are designated as the Manun1 io7 CozLrts-Mnrtinl, Philippine Amy.6 As implemented and amended, Commonvealth Act No. 4G8 is still the organic law of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.


Minor offenses or infractions invariably demand some kind af disciplinary action short of court-martial. For the prompt and efficient disposition of such offenses, commanding officers are authorized to impose limited form...

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