Gov’t takes lead in
crafting nat’l agenda on human rights
December 11, 2012
The government has set the stage for the crafting of a national agenda
on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) with the hosting of a multi-sectoral
human rights summit in Malacanang on Tuesday.
The 2nd National Summit on
International Humanitarian Law was organized by the Presidential Human
Rights Committee (PHRC), chaired by Executive Secretary Paquito N.
Ochoa Jr., to further strengthen the country’s policies in upholding
and protecting human rights, particularly during armed conflict.
In a statement read by
Deputy Executive Secretary Teofilo S. Pilando Jr. on his behalf, Ochoa
said: “We are honored to host this event because it highlights and
places great value on strong and productive discourse between
government and human rights defenders to identify and collectively
resolve critical issues.”
“Moreover, it situates human
rights and international humanitarian law within the same breadth as
the promotion and protection of our people’s overall welfare and
well-being, especially in situations of armed conflict,” he added.
According to Ochoa, the
Philippine government’s commitment to the IHL further leapt forward
under President Benigno S. Aquino III’s administration, citing several
key measures and initiatives that it has taken since coming to office.
Among these are the
ratification of the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court in
August 2011 and its adoption months later to boost human rights
protection in situations of armed conflict; the implementation of the
Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 2011-2016 Internal Peace and Security
Plan: Bayanihan; and the issuance of Administrative Order No. 35,
which created an inter-agency committee to probe human rights abuses
allegedly committed by state and non-state forces.
Other initiatives include
the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro on October
15, and the signing of the terms of reference that rendered
operational the government’s Complaints Monitoring Working Group under
the Philippine Government Monitoring Committee to further enhance
compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human
Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL) between the
government and the National Democratic Front (NDF).
Since the first national
summit held in August of 2009, the government has likewise put in
place Republic Act No. 9851, which defined and penalized war crimes,
crimes against humanity and genocide.
“Significant as they are,
these developments should encourage all of us to revisit the other
commitments we made at the first IHL summit some three years ago.
These are commitments that deeply relate to our institutional mandates
as government instrumentalities, as an independent national human
rights institution, as civil society, and as parties to the armed
conflicts in the land,” Ochoa said.
“In the end, these
commitments – and the challenges that come with them – will be our
measure of readiness to craft a National Agenda on International
Humanitarian Law that will fuse and further our efforts.”
Participants in the human
rights national summit, the second since August 2009, include
representatives from the government, non-government organizations,
civil society groups, members of the diplomatic community and other