AFP, Red Cross ink terms of reference on IHL promotion

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross on Thursday signed a term of reference (TOR) on the promotion and monitoring of the implementation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in the country.

“This partnership manifests the AFP’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and the rights of victims of armed conflict,” AFP Chief-of-Staff Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. said in a statement.

The dialogues are enclosed in the semi-annual meetings considered as the highest working-level venue for discussing, recommending, and/or deciding IHL issues between the AFP and the ICRC.

The TOR, signed at the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations (CMO), OJ-7, provides for the creation and the procedures for various working groups that will act on decisions and recommendations resulting from the meetings.

The areas of discussion include the conduct of hostilities in densely populated areas, missing persons, management of casualties, treatment of captured persons, and protection and respect for medical mission staff, patients, facilities, and transportation means.

The signatories to the TOR were Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, AFP’s Deputy Chief of Staff for CMO, and Boris Kelecevic, deputy head of the ICRC delegation.

The AFP and the ICRC established a series of ad hoc, semi-formal meetings under the auspices of ICRC Protection Coordinator, OJ7, and the AFP Human Rights Office as a result of dialogue following the 2013 Zamboanga siege.

Starting 2016 the meetings were held quarterly until 2018 when the AFP and ICRC adopted the twice-yearly format for the high-level discussions.

“We thank the ICRC delegates for taking this journey with us. With your help and constructive vigilance, we are confident that we will be able to stay on a straight and narrow course towards upholding the principles of human rights and IHL in all levels of our operations,” Santos said. (PNA)

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