REMARKS AT THE LAUNCHING & EXHIBIT OPENING OF THE
NEW PHILIPPINE CAMPAIGN AGAINST CLUSTER MUNITIONS (PCCM)
By Atty. Soliman M. Santos, Jr.
Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines (PCBL)
Society Initiatives for International Humanitarian Law (CSI-IHL)
Quezon City, 15 September 2008
of Peace to All! It is an honor, as
Coordinator of the Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines (PCBL) and as a Charter
Member of the new Civil Society Initiatives for International Humanitarian Law (CSI-IHL),
to give this address at the launching of the new Philippine Campaign Against
Cluster Munitions (PCCM). PCBL is proud to have helped pave the way for and
become an affiliate of the PCCM. Though,
together with our pre-formation partner, the Philippine Action Network on Small
Arms (PhilANSA), we were actually considering the acronym PACMAN instead of
PCCM. But PACMAN, the monicker of
Filipino boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, might only confuse people as to the
destructive power that we are campaigning about.
We are campaigning against cluster
munitions: weapons made up of multiple
explosive submunitions or bomblets which are dispensed from a container which
opens in mid-air after being deployed mainly by aircraft. They pose a unique and grave lethal threat to
civilians both during and after armed conflict in which they are used. For one, the wide area and indiscriminate
effects, over an area the size of 2-4 football fields, effectively carpet
bombing that area, increase the threat to civilians at the time of use in or
near populated areas. For another, the
high likelihood of their becoming unexploded ordnance (UXO) makes them a
serious and continued threat after use.
If this sounds abstract to you, considering that we have no cluster
munitions experience in the Philippines,
don’t worry – the exhibit that PCCM will open to you shortly will graphically
show what we mean.
This year, 2008, is perhaps the
most important in the history of cluster munitions. Last May, a new treaty banning cluster
munitions as a class of weapons was successfully negotiated. This December, the new treaty will be opened
for signature, as part of a process for its rapid entry into force. The Philippines has been and will
continue to be part of this making
history, making it happen, making a difference. At this point, I wish to give credit to the
Philippine Delegation at the Dublin Diplomatic Conference and we are honored by
the presence here of Delegation Head DFA Assistant Secretary Evan Garcia and
Delegation Vice-Head DND Assistant Secretary Lamberto Sillona. We in the PCBL worked in cooperation with
them during the treaty negotiations. The
PCCM exhibit shows photos of this. This
followed a new model of diplomacy characterized by governmental-civil society
humanitarian partnership. The result was
a cluster munitions ban treaty which carried five substantive and one
procedural, a total of six, Philippine contributions to the new treaty. It’s like winning six gold medals in the
Olympics (Not quite like Michael Phelps but very good).
Having helped achieve that, PCBL
and PhilANSA have decided to “retire” as the main Philippine campaign groups
against cluster munitions, and instead
form a new and younger country campaign group called PCCM to focus on this
issue. This will also allow PCBL and
PhilANSA to properly focus on their respective issues of landmines and small
arms, which both still have an actual problematic presence in the country. In this way, we do the best justice to all
these respective issues.
Some of you may ask, since there is
no actual problematic presence of cluster munitions in the Philippines, why even campaign here on this issue? The quick answers are these. First of
all, we do not want them to become an actual problematic presence here. Second,
they are in fact an actual problematic presence in other countries or areas
where overseas Filipinos are found. One
such area was southern Lebanon
and northern Israel in
August 2006 where, respectively, Israel and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah
non-state armed group used cluster munitions to horrendous effect, as the PCCM
Third, we express our humanitarian solidarity with all such victims
of cluster munitions, and most especially to those closest to home – in our
Southeast Asian neighbors Laos,
Cambodia and Vietnam. This is the most bombed region resulting from
the Vietnam War of four decades ago.
Again, the PCCM exhibit will show this. Fourth, and related to the third, we do not want our territory to
be ever used again for the infliction of devastation by cluster bombs on our
Asian neighbors. There are indications
that the former U.S.
military bases in the Philippines
were used as staging or transit points, even if not the main ones, for U.S.
B-52 cluster bombing during the Vietnam War.
Fifth and last, we have a foreign policy committed to international
peace and security as shown by Philippine adherence to most humanitarian,
weapons and disarmament treaties. In our
premium region of the ASEAN, we share the longtime aspiration for a “Zone of
Peace, Freedom and Neutrality” (ZOPFAN).
As we launch PCCM, we recall and
honor those who were several generations ahead of us and paved the way for
humanitarian disarmament campaigning.
This year, 2008, is the 50th anniversary of the 1958 Campaign
for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and its Ban-the-Bomb symbol which later became
the more broadly meaningful Peace symbol.
The motif in this t-shirt I am wearing seeks to show the continuing relevance
and link between the oldest and the newest bomb ban advocacies, as well as all
that came in between. In this way too,
we seek to reach out to and link arms in solidarity with other generations and
causes of peace activists in our country and in our region. Let us learn
the lessons from each other’s histories.
Let us connect the dots among
arms control, disarmament, humanitarian law, human rights, and peace. We invoke the
spirit of the best in humanitarian disarmament and peace campaigning.
Thanks to Jayme and Nikki for all
your preparatory work, and congratulations for this launching and exhibit. And thanks to all for your solidarity.
Ban the Bomb! Ban Cluster Bombs! No to War!
Yes to Peace!
Congress set to hold first ever hearing on landmines
Congress is set to hold a first ever
committee hearing for a comprehensive law on landmines this coming Wednesday,
March 4, in the wake of the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of an
international treaty totally banning victim-activated anti-personnel mines
today, March 1. This also comes at a
time of an upsurge of landmine incidents as part of armed hostilities in the
country on two war fronts, with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) since
the August 2008 abortion of a memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain, and
with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) calling
for the intensification of tactical offensives as part of marching orders
marking their 40th anniversaries.
The House of Representatives Committee
on Foreign Affairs under its Chair, Rep. Antonio V. Cuenco, has set that
hearing on Wednesday morning, inviting representatives of the Armed Forces of
the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Foreign
Affairs (DFA), Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of the Presidential Adviser
on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Sulong CARHRIHL (affiliate of the Civil Society Initiatives
for International Humanitarian Law), and the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC) to present their respective position statements. This will be preceded by a briefing on the
landmines issue and bill to be provided by the bill’s main proponents, lawyer
Soliman Santos Jr., Coordinator of the Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines
(PCBL) which drafted the bill, and its author who adopted it in the House, Rep.
Ana Theresia Hontiveros-Baraquel, herself was an early member of PCBL.
The Philippine Landmines Bill refers to House Bill No. 1054 of Rep.
Hontiveros-Baraquel and its counterpart Senate Bill No. 1595 of Sen. Gregorio
Honasan II, a former soldier. The bill
involves implementing legislation on the two landmine-related international treaties
already ratified by the Philippines. These are the 1997 Ottawa Treaty totally banning victim-activated anti-personnel
mines and the 1996 Amended Protocol II
(to the 1980 Conventional Weapons Convention) on prohibitions or restrictions
on the use of mines, booby-traps and other devices. In gist, the bill seeks to comprehensively
implement these two treaties and to reconcile their implementation by adopting
the total ban regime when it comes to victim-activated anti-personnel
mines. Aside from criminalizing and
penalizing the violations of the relevant treaty norms, the bill also contains original, innovative
or cutting-edge features.
Among these features are the application of the total ban on
victim-activated anti-personnel mines to their transit and carrying by visiting
foreign military vessels and forces, such as those of the U.S. which has not yet signed, much less
ratified, the 1997 Ottawa Treaty. Applying a principle used in cases of war
crimes, the bill proposes universal jurisdiction over and extra-territorial
application even to persons who commit the prohibited acts in other
countries. In the bill’s provisions on
compliance by the AFP, corresponding changes in its military doctrine shall be
effected, including the development and use of alternatives for perimeter
defense of field detachments. In cases
of reacquisition of anti-personnel Claymore mines, it shall be ensured that
these are usable and used in command-detonated mode only. By order of then
President Ramos as early as 1995, the AFP destroyed its whole inventory of such
Claymore mines by 1998.
In the bill’s provisions on
compliance by rebel groups, the State welcomes their voluntary compliance with
the norms established by the two relevant treaties, shall pursue the inclusion
of the landmines agenda in peace negotiations with them, and recognizes the
special role of impartial humanitarian organizations in engaging them on those
norms. The PCBL had in fact been able to
secure declarations of adherence to the IHL on landmines from the MILF and
three communist breakaway armed groups in 2008.
This underscores the role that civil society and its organizations have
played in what has been called the “Ottawa Process” model of citizen
ratified the 1997 Ottawa Treaty in 2000 and the 1996 Amended Protocol II in 1997, but it
has yet to pass domestic/national implementing legislation on either of these
treaties. The Philippine Landmines Bill
has been filed in the 12th, 13th and 14th Congresses, i.e.
as early as 2003, but without even a first Committee hearing so far. This has been largely due to other legislative
and political priorities. Hontiveros-Baraquel and Santos say that it is about time that this
bill finally move forward in the legislative mill toward passage into law in
contributes key ideas in new int'l treaty banning cluster bombs
DUBLIN, Ireland -- The Philippines succeeded
in contributing at least four substantive proposals into the new
international treaty banning cluster bombs adopted yesterday, May 30, at the close
of the Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions.
The two-week conference, attended by representatives of more than 100
countries, a number of international organizations, and NGOs led by the global
Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), was organized to address this weapon
condemned as causing unacceptable harm to civilians.
Cluster bombs consist of a large shell containing "bomblets" that
can cover a wide area. Handicap International estimates that
98% of those killed and injured by the weapons are non-combatants. They also
say cluster bombs leave a large number of unexploded "duds" which
continue to kill and maim long after a conflict has ended.
A Philippine proposal which addressed the possibility that non-state
armed groups could also use prohibited cluster munitions is now reflected
in the Preamble of the new treaty. Human Rights Watch had once
reported that the Hezbollah had fired cluster munitions-bearing missiles into
northern Israel during the
southern Lebanon war of 2006.
Hezbollah, however, just recently denied this, showing that the weapon is
already stigmatized even for non-state armed groups.
A second Philippine proposal has resulted in the inclusion of those
"who have been killed" or have died, not just those who have been injured
or wounded, in the new treaty’s definition of “cluster munition victims.” This proposal is also responsible for
the diplomatic understanding that the definition of “cluster munition victims”
covers “all” persons victimized, including migrants, refugees and other
non-nationals, in the affected areas, in recognition of the big number of
Filipinos migrant workers, many of them in cluster munitions-affected countries
A third Philippine proposal accepted into the new treaty was
the significant addition of international humanitarian law, aside from internal
human rights law, as a term of reference for victim assistance to ensure that
cluster munition victims will receive the full measure of assistance, rights
and benefits due them.
A fourth Philippine proposal resulted in a new formulation on
national implementation measures which now cover the whole range of
legal, administrative and other measures, no longer just limited to criminal
and penal legislation on prohibited cluster munition activity. Other measures would include changes in
military doctrine and operating procedures and the notification of
organizations involved in arms development, production and transfer.
is not known to be a producer, user, or stockpiler of cluster munitions.
It has also not itself been affected by this weapon so far, other
than through the danger posed to overseas Filipinos, such as migrant workers,
peacekepers and deminers, in the affected areas of the world.
However, the Philippines' "special relations" with the U.S., the
biggest producer, user and stockpiler of cluster bombs, creates the real
possibility of the country's being used as at least a transit point for US
cluster munitions in its global military operations. In the past, US military bases in the Philippines
were believed to have contained stockpiles and been used as launching pads
of cluster munitions that were used during the Vietnam War.
The US dropped
cluster bombs in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia,
and Laos in the 1960s
and 1970s, and more recently in the former Yugoslavia,
Afghanistan, and Iraq, including
in the vicinity of civilian communities. These munitions continue to
kill and maim civilians, especially children, up to the present, even long
after the armed conflict. The International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC) estimates that in Laos alone, nine to 27 million unexploded submunitions
remain, and some 11,000 people have been killed or injured, more than 30
percent of them children. An estimate based on US military databases states
that 9,500 sorties in Cambodia
delivered up to 87,000 air-dropped cluster munitions.
The Philippine Delegation was led by Assistant Secretary Evan Garcia of the
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), with Assistant Secretary Lamberto Sillona
of the Department of National Defense (DND) as deputy head and Geneva-based Minister-Counsellor
Jesus Domingo of DFA as member. They
were supported by a team of the CMC-affiliated NGO Philippine Campaign to Ban
Landmines (PCBL) composed of lawyer Soliman Santos Jr., professor Paz
Verdades Santos and Bangkok-based international representative Alfredo Lubang,
the latter also working with the Thai Campaign to Ban Landmines.
PCBL brought to the Dublin conference from the Philippines a petition in
support of a cluster munitions ban treaty in the form of a long canvas cloth signed
by and with hand imprints of more than 120 Filipino youth gathered by another
CMC-affiliated NGO, the Philippine Action Network on Small Arms
(PhilANSA). The latter was also responsible
for securing a letter last March from Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, as President
of Pax Christi-Pilipinas, urging President Arroyo to support the treaty.
PCBL Statement on IHL Rules on Landmines
PCBL Primer on Landmines Issue & Bill
Tale of a Filipino Postcard Meant from Dublin - Ban the (Cluster) Bomb
Press Release on RP and New Cluster Bombs Ban Treaty, Dublin
The New Cluster Munitions Ban Treaty and the May 2008 Dublin Diplomatic Conference
PCBL Statement on IHL Rules on Landmines
PCBL Statement for 8MSP Jordan 2007
Celebrating 10 Years of the Mine Ban Treaty - SEAsia Overview
Civil Society Role Ottawa Process
Civil Society Initiatives for International Humanitarian Law brochure