Editorial: Even War has its limits


Lifting from the website of the Legal Information Institute (LII), Cornell Law School, it was August when the “Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of August 12, 1949” was ratified by several countries in addition to the Geneva Convention that was adopted in 1864.

The LII article also said, “The Geneva Conventions is a body of Public International Law, also known as the Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflicts, whose purpose is to provide minimum protections, standards of humane treatment, and fundamental guarantees of respect to individuals who become victims of armed conflicts. The Geneva Conventions are a series of treaties on the treatment of civilians, prisoners of war (POWs) and soldiers who are otherwise rendered hors de combat (French, literally “outside the fight”), or incapable of fighting.”

The 1949 versions of the Conventions, along with two additional Protocols (1977), are in force today.

Under Convention IV, civilians are afforded the same protections from inhumane treatment and attack afforded to sick and wounded soldiers in the first Convention. Further, additional regulations regarding the treatment of civilians were introduced. Specifically, it prohibits attacks on civilian hospitals, medical transports, etc. It also specifies the rights of internees (POWs) and saboteurs. Finally, it discusses how occupiers are to treat an occupied populace.

Around the same time (June 1996) negotiations begun for, The Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHR-IHL, signed in March 1998) which the Asian Human Rights Monitor described as, “a landmark agreement between the Philippine government and the CPP/NPA/NDF and is a glowing testimonial to the painstaking and persevering efforts of the two sides.”

Meanwhile, this August the 20th, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) CAR convened a dialogue between the AFP operating in the region and the civilian communities in the area, among others. Observable was the military tried the whole time to convince everyone present that they were “their soldiers and are there to protect them”. They even asked, “aren’t we all government?”

Northern Luzon is covered by the 5th and 7th army division of the AFP, from reports on the ground are the presence of the; 702nd IB, 503rd IB, or the 81st, 86th, 54th army battalions painfully felt among indigenous communities directly or indirectly.

What was not audible to the panel forum was the query in the audience, (protection) from whom? The few civilian participants, from their experiences or exposures to the violence by soldiers under martial law, under Cory’s total war and during Ramos’ time and now, only want the military out of their ancestral domains, their villages and homes. No matter how they claim to be humane and charitable ordinarily people could never be comfortable in their homes with strangers, armed soldiers at that, their civilian spies, brigands or scalawags lurking around.

Yes, Virginia there is a civil war raging in the Philippines, that is why so many civilians, demand for the resumption of the GRP/NDFP peace negotiations/talks instead of our brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers; family, kakailian or country mates having to shoot each other in this war. Even with the Geneva Conventions in place the monitored data in the country of human rights violations (HRV) is growing ten fold every year, and HRVs are, “in general only government can commit human rights violation (CHR-CAR).” # nordis.net


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