Practice Relating to Rule 155. Defence of Superior Orders
The Philippine National Police (PNP) Manual on Ethical Doctrine (1995) provides:
Respect for Human Rights
– In the performance of duty, PNP members shall respect and protect human dignity and uphold the human rights of all persons. No member shall inflict, instigate or tolerate extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, any act of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and shall not invoke superior orders or exceptional circumstances such as a state-of-war, a threat to national security, internal political instability or any public emergency as a justification for committing such human rights violations.
The Revised Penal Code (1930) of the Philippines, in a provision entitled “Justifying circumstances”, states: “The following do not incur any criminal liability: … any person who acts in obedience to an order issued by a superior for some lawful purpose.”
In its judgment in the Margen case
in 1950, the Supreme Court of the Philippines held: “Obedience to an order of a superior gives rise to exemption from criminal liability only when the order is for some lawful purpose.”