The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) joins the country’s annual celebration of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Month this August. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Upholding IHL as We Recover from the Pandemic: Bayanihan to Reduce the Suffering in Armed Conflict Toward Advancing the Gains of Peace and Reconciliation.”
This year’s IHL Month celebration is chaired by the Department of National Defense (DND) and co-chaired by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). These two agencies take turns leading the IHL Month activities each year. The IHL Ad Hoc Committee, together with PRC as member, held a photo exhibit and a ribbon-cutting at DND-AFP AFCOC on August 12, which the Philippines also celebrates as IHL Day. The exhibit focuses on the accomplishments of committee members in relation to IHL.
In his speech at the DND on IHL Day, PRC Chairman and CEO Richard J. Gordon said that IHL simply means that a country should not make war upon non-combatants. “IHL is there to protect everyone. We [PRC] are neutral, and our neutrality allows us the credentials, the credibility to initiate discussions on IHL,” Gordon explained.
Gordon, a former senator and a lawyer, is the principal author of Republic Act 9851, also known as the “Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity,” which primarily localizes IHL and takes the law and its enforcement in the country a step forward. “We are one of a few countries that have two IHL laws,” added Gordon, referring to the international treaty on ILH to which the Philippines is a signatory and the law he authored.
During the entire month, the PRC is holding dissemination sessions and other activities to promote IHL principles in connection with the PRC’s major services as the foremost humanitarian organization in the country.
Executive Order (E.O.) 134, signed by former President Joseph Estrada in 1999, declares August 12 as International Humanitarian Law Day. The members of the Ad Hoc Committee for the celebration of IHL Month are the DFA, DND, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace Process, Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine National Police (PNP), Human Rights Affairs Office, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Education (DepEd), and the PRC.