[AP photo above shows Malaysia Airlines plane hit by a surface-to-air missile, killing all 298 people on board]
Three Filipinos were among 298 people on board the Malaysia Airlines plane shot down Thursday over Ukraine, a country next to Russia. Russian-supported Ukrainian rebels are being blamed for the tragedy. The three Pinoys, according to a radio report in Manila, are based at the Netherlands and on their way home to the Philippines.
Their death, just like children and other innocent civilians in Gaza Strip next to Israel and other parts of the world, is despicable and most atrocious. Even in the heat of battle, combatants in any and every conflict or war should exercise some restraint or caution, especially if there is significant likelihood of innocent civilians getting caught in the crossfire.
Afterall, killings of innocent civilians won’t advance political or military cause.
Beyond the usual denunciations of deaths of civilians caught amid conflicts, what can and needs to be done?
First, perpetrators of senseless mass killing of civilians in conflicts need to be hunted down and prosecuted.
Second, their immediate superiors should also be made to take responsibility under the tenet of command responsibility.
Third, while these actions are easier said than done, especially amid continuing conflicts, they should nevertheless be pursued vigorously and relentlessly after conflicts are resolved. Failure to do this will simply result in a recurrence ad naseam of senseless killings of civilians.
Vigorous prosecution of perpetrators and their immediate commanders will send a strong and clear signal that killings of civilians whether deliberate or accidental should never be tolerated and will subject errant parties to severe punishments. There will never be any effective deterrence to senseless killings of civilians in the future unless perpetrators are punished severely.
Should civilian casualties in times of war or undeclared conflicts simply be treated as “collateral damage” or unfortunate victims caught in the crossfire?
Definitely not. This term should be condemned all round as it serves to justify – on unjustifiable and illogical grounds – uncalled-for deaths which can perhaps be avoided, if not drastically minimized, if protagonists know that they face severe punishments in case of wanton lack of restraint and caution, resulting in mass killings of innocent civilians.