BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines — What is the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights – International Humanitarian Law?
Recently, members of the rebel armed group, the New People’s Army owned up to the killing of a civilian, a kagawad in Villahermoso town, Cerilo Balasabas.
This prompted the talks and condemnation with officers and members of the military pointing out that the killing is a gross violation of the International Humanitarian Law, which among others provides guidelines on the conduct of war, including distinguishing civilians from armed targets.
It could also be recalled that in 1998, the government of Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front signed the Comprehensive Agreement for the respect for Human Rights – International Law, which is a reiteration of various integration laws and treaties signed by party-states on the respect for human rights both during war-time and peace time.
The New People’s Army, through the National Democratic Front led by the chief of the negotiating panel Luis Jalandoni.
The CARHR-IRL is clear about the protection of civilians during the time of war, and that the killing of a civilian is considered a war crime.
Part III of the CARHR-IHL lists guidelines for Respect for Human Rights.
Article 2.4 explicitly states that among the rights protected is the right to life “especially against summary executions (salvagings), involuntary disappearances, massacres and indiscriminate bombardments of communities, and the right not to be subjected to campaigns of incitement to violence against one’s person”.
Part III further says that persons liable for violations and abuses of human rights shall be subject to investigation and, if evidence warrants, to prosecution and trial. The victims or their survivors shall be indemnified while all necessary measures shall be undertaken to remove the conditions for violations and abuses of human rights and to render justice to and indemnify the victims.
Meanwhile, Part IV is the commitment to adhere to and respect provisions of Respect for International Humanitarian Law.
Article 3, in particular, explicitly says that “violence to life and person, particularly killing” is expressly prohibited.
The CARHR-IHL also says that the principles and standards of international humanitarian law shall likewise apply and protect the rights of persons, entities, or objects involved or affected in any of the cases or situations cited hereunder.
These include persons hors de combat (or those who are either injured or have surrendered) and those who do not take a direct part in hostilities are entitled to respect for their lives, dignity, human rights, political convictions and their moral and physical integrity and shall be protected in all circumstances and treated humanely without any adverse distinction founded on race, color, faith, sex, birth, social standing, or any other similar criteria.
Civilian population and civilians are also protected under the CARHR-IHL, and shall be treated as such and shall be distinguished from combatants and, together with their property, shall not be the object of attack.
Civilians shall also have the right to demand appropriate disciplinary actions against abuses arising from the failure of the Parties to the armed conflict to lict to observe the
principles and standards of international humanitarian law.
The CARHR-IHL was signed 16 March 1998 in The Hague, The Nethernalands.
For the GRP, the signatories are Ambassador Howard Q. Dee, Chairperon, GRP Negotiating Panel with members Rep. Jose V. Yap, Sec. Silvestre H. Bello III, and Zenaida H. Pawid.
For the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the signatories are Jalandoni, Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel, with members Fidel V. Agcaoili, Coni K. Ledesma,
Asterio B. Palima, and Jojo Magdiwang.
The witnesses are Hon. Jose C. de Venecia, Speaker, House of Representatives; Jose Ma. Sison. Chief Political Consultant NDFP Negotiating Panel, Usec. A. Wilfredo Clemente, DECS, GRP; Antonio L. Zumel, Senior Adviser; MA. Carla L. Munsayac, Executive Director, GRP Negotiating Panel Secretariat ; and Romeo T. Capulong, General Counsel NDFP Negotiating Panel.