Officials ‘cautious’ on ‘Duterte death squad’
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.