Security execs try to justify proposed assassins’ unit
The country’s security officials were scrambling to discern and justify President Duterte’s announcement that he would deploy a “death squad” for search-and-destroy missions against communist rebels.
No one, however, questioned whether creating such a group was legal in the first place.
“We will study it very closely,” said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
He spoke with reporters on Wednesday just hours before the President stated for the second time his planned “Duterte death squad.”
“I’m putting notice to everybody. I will follow them. I will field assassination teams also to kill them,” the President said in a speech at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Panguil Bay Bridge in Tubod, Lanao del Norte.
Lorenzana said the study would focus on who would be the members of the death squad, its leader and the targets of its clandestine operations.
He said the defense department would also identify who should be held accountable for the group “because there is great danger of abuse or mistakes in these undercover operations.”
He was referring to possible cases of hitting the wrong targets or the deliberately wrongful identification of rebel suspects.
“One way to prevent this is for someone higher up to give the go-signal after careful and thorough vetting,” he pointed out, adding that the operatives should not be given blanket authority.
Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde played down the President’s announcement, saying it was just a plan to boost the counterinsurgency campaign using paramilitary units.
According to Albayalde, the President is not out to form “a Duterte death squad.”
“It will be the same system as the Cafgu,” the PNP chief said, referring to the Citizens’ Armed Forces Geographical Unit, the government-armed local militia.
He said the government’s internal security operations entailed a “clear then hold” strategy that relied on the Cafgus and other auxiliary military forces that are supervised by personnel and officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
So to what, exactly, will the President’s new units be auxiliaries to? Albayalde cited counterinsurgency units such as the PNP Special Action Force and the Army Scout Rangers.
Albayalde assured the public that the civilians who would compose these military auxiliary forces, which may likely include barangay officials, would not be chosen arbitrarily.
For instance, “if people in the area are truly qualified, they have to undergo the normal processing to own firearms,” he said.
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