Monday, August 7, 2017

CSAFP message on IHL month celebration 2017

Opening Remarks of
Chief of staff, AFP

International Humanitarian Law Month Celebration 2017
07 August 2017

Since its conception and universal codification in the early part of nineteenth century, the observance of the International Humanitarian Law has certainly gone a long way. These set of rules which seeks to limit the effects of armed conflict and protect people who are not or are no longer participating in the hostilities has greatly regulated the means and methods of warfare.

Truly, this year's theme, "Pagsulong ng IHL, Pananagutan ng Lahat”, inspires us to take responsibility in upholding morality and humanity in the event of armed conflicts, and review the basic principles of the law that we honor. The Philippines, being one of the first signatories of the International Humanitarian Law, must serve as a good example in its implementation.

For us in the AFP, peace is not constrained to nonviolence and the absence of war. Rather, we recognize that peace can only be just and lasting if it is based on respect for life, human rights, and dignity. As members of the noble profession of arms, we are mandated to defeat enemies of the State insurgents, secessionists and terrorists- who seeks to spoil the harmony and progress of our nation. As we perform our sacred duty, we are oftentimes faced with situations where innocent civilians are caught in between armed conflicts. In recognition of this, the AFP's Rules of Engagement has been continuously guided by the past and present Campaign Plans' strategic imperative of Adherence to Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law, and the Rule of Law.

While we focus on the goal to decimate our adversaries, we cannot bear to see our fellow Filipinos suffer as innocent and helpless victims. This is why we prioritized to keep them  away from danger and take them to the safety zones. We saw to it that while we can apply our full force against the enemies, we calibrated our offensives as we took into consideration the possible harm and damage that can be inflicted upon civilians and those not participating in the hostilities.

In this regard, I would like to commend our frontline commanders and troops, particularly those in the war zones at Marawi City, for exerting diligent effort to ensure adherence to the IHL. This created a very positive impact on the perception of the civilians and other stakeholders about the AFP as manifested by the very strong support to the decision of the President to extend the Martial Law and to the overwhelming expression of trust and confidence to the manner on how the AFP implements the Martial Law in Mindanao. The concerted efforts of every soldier has resulted to the increased positive ratings that the military has been receiving. This is a manifestation that our nation and its citizens respects and supports their AFP — an honor which is worthy to be proud of.

Now that we have once again renewed and reaffirmed our commitment to International Humanitarian Law, I am very much confident that the AFP will sustain its strict adherence and compliance with all of IHL provisions. I therefore urge every soldier that while we work and perform our duties with a deeper sense of urgency to finally end all internal armed conflicts, let us also stay true with our core values to serve and protect our people and help communities thrive with peace, security and stability.

In closing, allow me to share the words of Marcus Tullius Cicero, a Roman statesman, scholar and writer, who once said, and I quote, "The safety of the people shall be the highest law”, end of quote.

Let us never compromise the values that we seek to defend - for this wilt be the source of our strength and the weakness of our adversaries. This will be the key to finally win just and lasting peace based on human rights and dignity... the peace that our nation deserves!

Good morning, and have a great week ahead!

Source: Public Information Office, Eastern Mindanao Command, AFP

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