Practice Relating to Rule 139. Respect for International Humanitarian Law
The Rules for Combatants (1989) of the Philippines directs “all military personnel in the field [to] strictly observe and apply these humanitarian principles embodied in the aforementioned rules in the performance of their duties”.
The Soldier’s Rules (1989) of the Philippines instruct: “Be a disciplined soldier. Disobedience of the laws of war dishonours your army and yourself and causes unnecessary suffering; far from weakening the enemy’s will to fight, it often strengthens it.”
The Philippines’ Air Power Manual (2000) provides:
1-6.1. It is the individual combatant who acts as agent for the sovereign state to further its national interests. However, it is presumed that during an armed conflict, he is willing to accept the limits of his actions and recognize the prevailing concept of legitimacy in all aspects of conflict. The system that exists to regulate conduct in combat is known as the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC), otherwise referred to as the Law of War.
1-6.2. LOAC is the code of ethics for the profession of arms. And because of the serviceman’s burden of responsibility in combat, LOAC assumes a status of an inviolable moral compact. It signifies individual commitment to a nation’s dedication to principled behavior even amid the confusion and anxieties of battle, and regardless of the actions of the enemy.
1-6.6. Additional Protocol Two defines two things: limitations in the conduct of operations and principles relating to the protection of civilians in a non-international conflict. Thus, every combatant should understand the consequences of this Protocol.
The Philippines’ AFP Standing Rules of Engagement (2005) states:
d. AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] units will comply with the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) during military operations, no matter how the conflict may be characterized under international law, and will comply with its principles and spirit during all other operations.
The Philippines’ Executive Order No. 404 (2005), Creating the Government of the Republic of the Philippines Monitoring Committee (GRP-MC) on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, states:
Whereas, the Government recognizes that respect for human rights and international humanitarian law is of crucial importance and urgent necessity in laying the ground for a just and lasting peace;
Whereas, the parties signed the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) on 16 March 1998 in The Hague to guarantee the protection of human rights to all Filipinos under all circumstances by primarily addressing violations and abuses of human rights and the principles of international humanitarian law;
Whereas, Part V of the CARHRIHL provides for the formation of a Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) that shall monitor the implementation of this Agreement;
Whereas, the parties signed the Operational Guidelines for the JMC on 14 February 2004 in Oslo which provided the manner by which to operationalize the JMC and monitor the implementation of and achieve the purposes of the CARHRIHL;
Now, Therefore, I, Gloria Macapagal – Arroyo, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by law, do hereby order:
Section 1. Creating the Government of the Republic of the Philippines Monitoring Committee (GRP-MC) on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law – There is hereby created the Government of the Republic of the Philippines Monitoring Committee (GRP-MC) on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law which shall be composed of a Chairperson and two (2) Members, with two (2) Observers from human rights organizations, all of whom shall be designated by the GRP Panel in the peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF. The GRP-MC shall operate under the supervision of the GRP Panel, which shall also provide overall support in the management and operation of the GRP-MC.
Section 2. Powers and Functions – The GRP-MC shall have the following powers and functions:
b. Monitor the status of the implementation of the CARHRIHL by concerned units and agencies of the Government, and request the concerned agencies to address through appropriate actions the non-implementation or any violation of the Agreement;
c. Work closely with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) of the Philippines with regard to its constitutional mandate to investigate human rights violations and monitor the Governments’ compliance with international treaty obligations on human rights. For this purpose, the GRP-MC shall provide CHR with regular updates concerning its work;
d. Coordinate with concerned units and agencies of the Government, as well as civil society groups and other entities, for any assistance as may be necessary in the performance of its functions;
e. Create, if necessary, local monitoring teams and other similar bodies throughout the country to provide assistance in the performance of its functions;
f. Submit, as often as necessary, reports to the GRP Panel on the status of its work, including recommendations to address reported cases of violations of human rights and IHL principles;
i. Perform such other functions as may be assigned by the GRP Panel and necessary to ensure the effective and efficient monitoring of the implementation of the CARHRIHL.
In 2003, in a speech at the 12th anniversary of the Philippine National Police, the President of the Philippines stated:
… I have approved recently the government’s draft final peace agreement with the Communist Party of the Philippines …
… The draft agreement also proposes … the continual review of military and police doctrine to promote respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.