Press Release
April 12, 2009

Gordon calls for swift passage of IHL bill as Senate resumes session

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today called on his colleagues in the Senate to pass a measure penalizing crimes against International Humanitarian Law (IHL) as Congress returns to work tomorrow after its Lenten break.

Gordon said he expects to begin to wrap up plenary debates and consolidate individual amendments to Senate Bill (SB) 2669 he authored and calendar it for approval on second and third reading soon.

"We ask for the immediate passage of Senate Bill 2669 as our symbolic gesture of our continuing adherence and strong commitment to IHL. The Senate is now in the penultimate stage of strengthening the measure thru amendments," he said.

SB 2669, also known as the IHL bill, is an act defining and penalizing crimes against international humanitarian law and other serious international crimes, operationalizing universal jurisdiction, and designating special courts.

Gordon, who chairs the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) which is celebrating its 62nd founding anniversary on April 15, emphasized that the measure would codify IHL within the ambit of the country's legal system.

It would, he continued, penalize and deny "safe havens" for those who committed war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.

Gordon, also a governing board member of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said the bill would also help humanitarian organizations in their mission to aid those who are in need and help save lives.

"We are a humanitarian organization dedicated to serve the people by alleviating human suffering and uplifting human dignity give importance to this bill because penalizing crimes against IHL would prevent such wrongdoings," he said.

"A crime is a crime. When we adopt international law as part of the law of the land, it reinforces our position that we are a humanitarian country which respects the rights of people even in the midst of armed conflict," he added.

The IHL is a set of rules which seek, for humanitarian reasons, a limit to the effects of armed conflict such that persons who are not or are no longer participating in hostilities are protected and the means and methods of warfare are restricted.

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