Press Release
August 12, 2008


Philippine National Red Cross Chairman and Senator Richard Gordon is calling for the observance an d application of International Humanitarian Law in light of the ongoing conflict between government troops and Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerillas in North Cotabato.

Gordon said the observance of International Humanitarian Law Day on August 12 has become critical with the ongoing armed conflict in North Cotabato.

"All sides involved in the North Cotabato conflict," Gordon said, "must be made aware of and be committed to the observance of International Humanitarian Law. While International Humanitarian Law does not prevent wars and armed conflict, it does help reduce the inherently terrible effects of war on combatants and non-combatants alike.

"International Humanitarian Law, essentially, brings a humane element into conflicts; when observed, it makes sure that mercy, compassion and justice are extended to those directly engaged in combat, and especially toward non-combatants who need protection from the effects of war.

"At this very moment, some 130,000 refugees are fleeing war-torn areas in North Cotabato. The Philippine armed forces as well as the MILF are both bound under International Humanitarian Law to protect non-combatants caught in the conflict, and to treat combatants from either side humanely. Even in war, combatants--especially those injured and no longer capable of fighting--still have rights and must not be denied humanitarian treatment," Gordon explained.

Walk for humanity

More than 10,000 people joined the "Walk for Humanity" organized by the Manila Red Cross Chapter to kick off the nationwide observance of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Day on August 12, 2008.

This year's theme is "Together for Humanity, Dignity & Peace". The had two starting points, one in Liwasang Bonifacio and the other at the Rajah Sulayman Park along Roxas Boulevard . A short program was held at the Quirino Grandstand where all the participants converged.

Delegations from various government, and private organizations participated, including the Department of Education- Manila Division; Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); tudents from different colleges and universities in Manila; Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE); Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH); Department of National Defense (DND); Commission on Human Rights (CHR); Manila Barangay Bureau; Manila Health Department; Philippine National Police (PNP); and the Girls Scouts of the Philippines.

The Red Cross mobilized its 143 volunteer and youth members from all over Metro Manila to provide logistical and emergency support to the event.

Guest speakers at the event included PNRC Chairman Sen. Richard J. Gordon; Manila City Mayor Alfredo Lim; International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Chief for Asia Sandra Moretti- Carr; Justice Leonor Ines Luciano; and Hon. Amado S. Bagatsing.

IHL and the Red Cross

According to Gordon, the actual provisions and the spirit of International Humanitarian Law are inextricably tied with the core mission of the Red Cross.

"The founder of the Red Cross, businessman Henry Dunant, in the nineteenth century laid the foundation and planted the seed for international humanitarian law, when he spontaneously helped the wounded soldiers and civilians in the Battle of Solferino in Italy.

"Like many of us today, Dunant was busy with his own life, conducting his own business and had no advanced plans to be a hero. And yet, when he passed by the scene of the Battle of Solferino, and saw soldiers and civilians were just left on their own, suffering and dying from their injuries, hunger and exposure, he was moved to stop and help them.

"It was Henry Dunant, who later wrote a book about his experiences helping combatants and civilians in Solferino, who became the inspiration for the creation of the International Committee of the Red Cross or ICRC in 1863.

"It was true then and it is true today: the Red Cross and its various societies around the world exist to extend protection, succor and humanitarian aid; to undertake compassionate action for the sake of those suffering the effects of war as well as other man-made and natural disasters.

"It's no exaggeration to say that without the Red Cross, the ICRC, there might be no International Humanitarian Law today. That's because the knowledge, experience and spirit of the Red Cross became the foundation for the creation of International Humanitarian Law," Gordon explained.

August 12 was declared IHL Day by virtue of Executive Order 134 in 1999 to observe the 58th anniversary of the 1949 Geneva Convention- an International Treaty which seeks to protect the victims of international and internal armed conflicts worldwide.

News Latest News Feed