‘Rebelyn’s murder a war crime’
Davao City - Sen. Richard Gordon branded yesterday as a “war crime” the killing of Rebelyn Pitao.
In Senate Bill 2669, Gordon said Rebelyn’s killing may be considered a war crime defined as an act of violence to life and person, in particular murder, committed against persons taking no active part in hostilities.
“Whether or not the killing of Rebelyn Pitao is related to her father’s involvement with the NPA, we should not tolerate such an atrocious act,” he said.
“However, this incident highlights the need to enjoin the country to respect International Humanitarian Law.”
Gordon said Congress must pass a law allowing the prosecution of crimes against International Humanitarian Law in Philippine courts.
“If the killing of Rebelyn Pitao was connected to her being a daughter of NPA commander Leoncio Pitao, it is more urgent to pass the IHL bill that would punish such acts under domestic courts,” he said.
The IHL is a set of rules that 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.
Gordon said the Senate bill seeks to codify IHL within the country’s legal system to penalize and deny “safe havens” for those who committed war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.
“A crime is a crime,” he said.
“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.
“In other words, we are drawing a face of our country that we firmly ensconced in humanitarian law.”
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By Edith Regalado
Updated March 12, 2009 12:00 AM