Human Rights Handbook to Shape Military Operations

Article excerpt

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) takes discipline in the military one notch higher with the release of the "AFP Human Rights Handbook," which shall serve as the Filipino soldier's "bible" as he carry out the armed forces' internal security campaign.A soft release of the AFP Human Rights Handbook was held Thursday afternoon at Camp Aguinaldo as the world celebrated the International Humanitarian Law Day.The AFP, which had to bear the stigma of the poor image of the military during the martial law days, is continuously hounded by charges of human rights violations. But the present AFP leadership is bent on showing the people that today's new breed of soldiers can be relied upon by the community.Lt. Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr., AFP public affairs office (PAO) chief, said with the release of the handbook, the Armed Forces takes a major step towards the institutionalization of human rights protection in the new paradigm of warfare it adopted. "The publication of the Human Rights Handbook was made part of the lined up activities the AFP has been participating in as part of the nationwide celebration of the International Human Rights Law Month, which is being commemorated every month of August here in the Philippines," said Burgos.The AFP Human Rights Handbook contains an introduction to the Philippine human rights experience - which touches topics such as "A Silent Problem in a Silent War", the dilemma, source of confusion, misconception of human rights and human rights groups, human rights activities, the prejudices against the soldiers, and the need for a practical guide.It also gives an analysis of the "soldiers as alleged human rights violators" and the rebels as "alleged human rights violators".On the protection and promotion of human rights, the handbook guides soldiers on methods of enforcing human rights and the rights of an accused and suspected person, a person during investigation, and a person on trial.It also tackles issues as human rights violations under Commission on Human Rights (CHR) jurisdiction.The AFP HR handbook further deals on the "Law of War for Armed Forces," which teaches soldiers about non-international armed conflict, command responsibility, exercise of command, behavior in action, treating wounded, sick and missing person; prisoners of war, and particular provisions on specific weapons.Most importantly, it serves as a practical guide to safeguard human rights of civilians and wounded or captured combatants during military operations, specifically: While not in combat, during combat operations, after an engagement, and steps to be undertaken when faced with human rights case.In his speech during the event, AFP Chief Lt. Gen. Ricardo David explained the importance of publishing the HR handbook. …