As the nation observes International Human Law (IHL) Day, the Department of National Defense (DND) on Monday stressed that the Philippines is reaffirming its commitment in adhering to the international accepted norms or rules of conduct of war.
In his message read by Undersecretary for Defense Policy Ricardo A. David Jr. during the IHL Day 2019 celebrations at the Bulwagang Apolinario Mabini of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City, DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the IHL gives special treatment or protection to parties or sectors who are not involved in armed conflict.
“As we all know international humanitarian law aims to mitigate the ill effects of armed conflict for humanitarian reasons, seeks to safeguard persons who not are directly involved or who are no longer part of the hostilities. These are the wounded, the sick, the prisoners, and the civilians,” Lorenzana said.
This year’s theme is “IHL: Protecting the Defenseless in Times of Armed Conflict”.
Lorenzana said the Philippines has enacted three important national legislations supporting this commitment.
These are Republic Act 9851 (An Act Defining and Penalizing Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide And Other Crimes Against Humanity, Organizing Jurisdiction, Designating Special Courts, And For Related Purposes), Republic Act 10530 (An Act Defining The Use and Protection of the Red Cross, Red Crescent, and Red Crystal Emblems, Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof And for Other Purposes), and Republic Act 11188 (An Act Providing for the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof).
He said RA 9851 reiterates what “our fundamental law has laid down, that the Philippine renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, and amity of all nations”.
“The said law emphasizes that the state values the dignity of every human person,” Lorenzana’s message further stressed.
The same law stressed the state’s respect for human rights, including the rights of indigenous cultural communities and other vulnerable groups like women and children.
Meanwhile, RA 10530 reiterates the importance of respecting the Red Cross, Red Crescent, and Red Crystal emblems by giving special protection to personnel and emergency response assets in times of armed conflict by allowing or disallowing the misuse of such symbols that can endanger the lives of humanitarian workers in war zones.
While RA 11188 assures the following children’s rights which include their right to life, survival and development and right to special respect and protection against any form of abuse, neglect, exploitation, and violation.
Lorenzana said the law also protects children from being recruited into government forces or any other armed groups and from participating in any conflict.
“The most important aspect of the law is that it recognizes children at the zone of peace,” the DND official added.
He said all three legislation highlights the respect for human rights in the Philippines.
The national observance of IHL Day is pursuant to Executive Order 134 (s. 1999) that declares every 12th of August as such.
This year’s commemoration was, however, postponed by the ad hoc Inter-Agency Committee to September 9 during the DFA’s flag-raising ceremony.
Being a party to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocol II Relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts, the EO 134 provides that the Philippines adheres to the principles of humanitarian laws or the laws of armed conflict.
The annual commemoration aims to enhance understanding by officials and personnel of government departments, law enforcement agencies, and local government units of the principles of IHL, and to raise the people’s consciousness and promote greater awareness of the same.
The activities for the observance of IHL Day are prepared by the ad hoc committee co-chaired by DFA and DND, and composed of representatives from DFA, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Department of the Interior and Local Government, International Committee of the Red Cross-Manila, Philippine National Red Cross, Commission on Human Rights, and the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat. PNA.GOV.PH