January 3, 2012
Legarda: Strengthen Protection of Filipino Soldiers in Int'l Wars
Senator Loren Legarda has sought the ratification of a treaty that would provide better protection to Filipinos abroad from international armed conflicts.
Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said that with eight million Filipinos overseas, some of which responding to international call of duty, the government cannot continue to overlook the significance to the national interest of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), the committee report of which was already submitted for the concurrence of the Senate.
"These Protocols strengthen the protection of victims of international (Protocol I) and non-international (Protocol II) armed conflicts and place limits on the way wars are fought. They provide timely reaffirmation of the respect due to a disarmed enemy and to persons taking no part in the hostilities. The Philippines ratified the Protocol II in 1986, but to this day, we have yet to ratify Protocol I," Legarda stressed.
The Senator explained that the objective of Protocol I is to extend greater protection to civilians without affecting the right of each State to defend itself by all legitimate means. It provides rules applicable to the conduct of hostilities, as well as the means and methods of warfare.
"With this treaty we will be able to provide better protection of Filipino soldiers in case they are deployed abroad for peacekeeping and other military operations in the course of an international armed conflict," Legarda said.
"The Philippines will ensure that its soldiers are better protected in the event they are wounded, sick, shipwrecked, captured, missing or killed. Medical units and medical transportation of the armed forces will likewise be entitled to reinforced protection."
She further explained that the ratification of Protocol I will ensure that the treaty rules are applicable and enforceable towards all other States parties to the additional protocol. But it would not change the applicable legal framework to the internal armed conflicts that are, or could be, taking place within the country.
"The ratification of Protocol I would be an important signal to the international community and to the region on the commitment of the Philippines to promote and support International Humanitarian Law," Legarda concluded.
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