By Mike Crismundo
BUTUAN CITY – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Saturday clarified that the medical evacuation of two wounded persons in Surigao del Sur that it carried out on Friday, May 29, in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, with support from the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), was “strictly for humanitarian purposes”.
Speaking to The Manila Bulletin, the ICRC said “medical evacuations by the Red Cross serve no other purpose than to save the lives of those wounded or sick, regardless of their political affiliations.”
As a neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian organization, the ICRC’s mandate is to protect and assist victims of armed conflicts.
“Under international humanitarian law or the law of armed conflict, wounded and sick fighters who are no longer fighting, regardless of what side they belong to, are entitled to the medical care and treatment required by their
condition. We acted in accordance with the mandate given to us by the community of States to protect and assist people not or no longer participating in hostilities,” said Allison Lopez, spokesperson of the ICRC delegation in the Philippines.
She also said that the ICRC provided prior notice to all parties to the conflict—including state security forces—about its general movements in conflict-affected areas to guarantee the safe passage of their staff. She said the concerned units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police were notified prior about the medical evacuation, to ensure that the wounded patients could get the necessary medical care as quickly
Lopez clarified the press statement of Caraga Police Regional Office 13 on Friday that the convoy was stopped at the
checkpoint but it was not “intercepted”.
“It was allowed to pass after being checked by the AFP and PNP personnel on the ground and upon confirmation from their hierarchy. An ambulance carrying a wounded or sick person may be checked along the way but must not be unnecessarily or excessively delayed,” she said.
The ICRC said that Friday’s medical evacuation was “exceptional” since it does not have emergency medical services and does not usually transport wounded or sick persons.
Lopez added that the ICRC or PRC “will not interfere in any investigations or subsequent arrests by the authorities, but they will ensure that the patient receives medical treatment and is properly cared for at the health facility. “All parties are made aware of this”.
It was earlier reported that security personnel manning a quarantine checkpoint in Purok 3, Barangay Payasan, Lianga, Surigao del Sur stopped three ICRC ambulances which had onboard two wounded persons, who were believed to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
In its press statement, the regional command of PRO 13, identified the two wounded persons as Jea Angeles Perez, 22, a resident of Purok-4, Barangay Puyat, Carmen, Surigao del Sur with gunshot wound in her right leg; and Noel Dadang, 32, with gunshot wounds in his left rib and parietal area.