MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / August 28, 2008) – The Philippine Army leadership reminded again all field commanders, specifically those who are deployed to pursue military actions against lawless Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members about their responsibility to see to it that all soldiers will strictly observe and respect human rights.
This move was prompted by the alarm raised by Human Rights head Leila de Lima that a growing number of civilian casualties were monitored as a result of military offensive against lawless MILF elements.
Col. Daniel Lucero, chief of the Army’s Civil-Military Operation, said army commanders were further reminded to inculcate in the minds of their soldiers to be impartial and unprejudiced in their observance of human rights - that every individual’s rights, regardless of his or her professed religion, ethnic attachment, gender, political beliefs, among other should be guaranteed and respected.
“Likewise, all army soldiers were reminded that the reason for existence of the Philippine Army was primarily to guarantee that every Filipino’s rights to life, speech and property are protected.”
“As such, soldiers were further reminded that they should see to it that no act should be pursued if this will mean an infringement of the rights of any individual which they as soldiers have sworn to protect,” he told reporters.
Lucero said they are aware that militant groups would use the issue of human rights to malign and damage the reputation of the Philippine Army.
“However, soldiers are reminded that they should take these negative criticisms as a challenge to do better. Soldiers were told that their deeds in pursuit of their observance of human rights will be greater than the words we use to refute these false allegations,” he said. (Mindanao Examiner)