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PH always been responsive to IHL obligations: Catura

By Priam Nepomuceno / Philippine News Agency

Undersecretary Severo Catura, Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat Executive Director (File photo)

MANILA – The Philippine government has always made sure it fulfills its International Humanitarian Law (IHL) obligations, a Palace official said.

"Even as the issue of IHL has not really surfaced, ito'y po ginagawa na ng atin pamahalaan (our government has really been doing this). There's a conscious effort of the government to be responsible in its IHL obligations," said Undersecretary Severo Catura, Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat Executive Director, during Monday’s episode of "Tagged: Debunking Lies by Telling the Truth” press briefing.

Catura said this positive development was demonstrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) decision to convert its Human Rights Office into the Center for Law of Armed Conflict (AFPCLOAC).

"So if I'm not mistaken, I think this is the only office within the security sector that exists. Kung titingnan natin (if we look at it), there are no other armed forces around the world that has its own center on law on armed conflict," said Catura, who is also National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) spokesperson for international affairs, peace process, and human rights concerns.

This is how important IHL is to the Philippines, he added.

"Ang IHL talaga ay nakatutok sa obligasyon ng pamahalaan to (IHL is focused on the government obligation to) make its forces professional, to be men and women of integrity, na kahit meron isang sitwasyon (even if there is a situation) where there is armed conflict, we conduct armed conflict in the most humane way," Catura said.

An example is when an enemy fighter or combatant is unable to move or is termed "hors de combat", they should no longer be targeted by government troops.

"Hors de combat" is a French term used in diplomacy and international law to refer to military personnel who are incapable of performing their duties during war.

Examples include persons parachuting from their disabled aircraft, as well as the sick, wounded, detained, or otherwise disabled.

"In the same manner we are imposing the same set of rules against the enemies of the state, the same rules are being applied and being implemented by our own forces because that is how professional we are," Catura said.

Annually since 1999, the Department of National Defense and Department of Foreign Affairs co-chair a government inter-agency ad hoc committee of which the AFP is a member, to formulate and implement activities for the IHL Day on August 12 and the whole month of August as IHL Month. (PNA)



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