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Philippines : CHR-5: Do not recruit IPs to fight in armed conflict.

Neither the armed forces of the government nor the insurgent groups should recruit the indigenous peoples (IPs) to fight in times of armed conflict.

Officials of the Commission on Human Rights in Bicol (CHR-5) stressed this as they reiterated that IPs are non-combatants and they need protection to life and property.

It is prohibited to recruit them to fight. If they belong to (combat) operation, there is a high chance that they become target of the enemies, Nelia Almonte, CHR-5 information officer, said.

She added that this non-combatant status of IPs was anchored in the International Humanitarian Law, also known as the Law of War, which advocates the protection of the defenseless in times of armed conflict.

It is also a set of rules that seeks to limit the effects of war or armed conflict, alleviate human sufferings, protect persons who are not or are no longer taking part in the hostilities, and restrict the means and methods of warfare, she added.

Almonte said the CHR and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) are always ready to help and protect the rights of IPs.

She explained that due to lack of manpower, coordination with the local government units (LGUs) is essential to provide appropriate assistance to the IPs.

The IPs should know that the barangay councils are there to protect them. On the other hand, barangay officials and LGUs should always extend a helping hand to the IPs, Almonte said.

She also reminded the LGUs that it is the right of IPs to have a permanent representative in the LGUs so that they can express their issues and concerns.

Aside from the NCIP, all other government agencies should also give assistance to IPs based on their line of services or specialization, she added.

Almonte suggested that the present administrations goal for a Whole-of-Nation Approach in stamping out communist insurgency can be attained if LGUs and all government agencies help and give importance to the rights of IPs.

She also called on IPs to have the initiative to know and protect their rights, saying they must take action in empowering themselves through the help of the government. (PIA-5)

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Publication:Mena Report
Date:Aug 29, 2019
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