Of­fi­cials ‘cau­tious’ on ‘Duterte death squad’

The Gulf Today - - ASIA - BY MANOLO B. JARA

MANILA: Top se­cu­rity of­fi­cials ad­mit­ted they would pro­ceed with “cau­tion” on the con­tro­ver­sial plan of Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo “Rody” Duterte to set up a “death squad” to be named af­ter him even as the head of the gov­ern­ment agency warned its es­tablih­ment is not al­lowed un­der in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law.

De­fence Sec­re­tary Delin Loren­zana warned that al­low­ing the op­er­a­tion of such squad to go af­ter the “as­sas­si­na­tion unit” of the com­mu­nist New Peo­ple’s Army (NPA), called the “Spar­row,” would be sus­cep­ti­ble to abuse and mis­takes.

“We will study it very closely. Who will com­pose it? Who will su­per­vise it? Who will be its tar­gets? Who will be ac­count­able be­cause there is great dan­ger of abuse or mis­takes in these un­der­cover op­er­a­tions?” Loren­zana asked.

Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Os­car Al­bay­alde, the chief of the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice (PNP), said that while he sup­ports the pro­posal, mem­bers of the “death squad” should be vet­ted and quali­ied to hold irearms.

Al­bay­alde also sur­mised that what prompted Duterte to make the con­tro­ver­sial pro­posal was that the pres­i­dent wants to pre­vent NPA rebels from fur­ther com­mit­ting vi­o­lence and atroc­i­ties against state se­cu­rity forces and ofi­cials.

On Tues­day, Duterte re­vealed his plan to form an armed civil­ian group to go af­ter the NPA’S “hit squad” called the “Spar­row” that gained no­to­ri­ety through the as­sas­si­na­tion of ofi­cials, soldiers and po­lice­men.

But Chito Gas­con, the chief of the Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights (CHR) joined other con­cerned groups in op­pos­ing the Duterte pro­posal, say­ing that in pro­tect­ing the peo­ple from law­less vi­o­lence, the gov­ern­ment should ad­here to es­tab­lished rules of en­gage­ment and due process.

“In­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law re­quires states to use only reg­u­lar armed forces un­der strict mil­i­tary dis­ci­pline. Thus, this strictly pro­hibits the death squads un­der all cir­cum­stances,” Gas­con pointed out.

The NPA is the armed com­po­nent of the Com­mu­nist Party of the Philip­pines that has been wag­ing a Maoist-style in­sur­gency against the gov­ern­ment for 50 years, con­sid­ered the long­est in Asia and the Paciic.

Op­po­si­tion Sen­a­tor Fran­cis Pangili­nan warned that form­ing such squad would lead to “daily killings” that would not solve the coun­try’s prob­lems.

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