Albayalde clarifies which NPA hit squad still exists
The Special Partisan Unit, or Sparu, the notorious hit squad of the New People’s Army (NPA), still exists, Director General Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said on Monday.
He clarified that what he earlier said had already disbanded was the Alex Boncayao Brigade (ABB), which was led by Filemon Lagman, Arturo Tabara and Romulo Kintanar as the extinct group.
Last Saturday, Albayalde said in an interview with AM radio station DZBB that the PNP had not monitored activities of the Sparu, better known as Sparrow.
“Wala na po tayong namo-monitor. Although may mga incidents the past three years kung di ako magkakamali, may mga killings [na] naitatala, mga 136 accordingly. Pero monitored po iyan [at] talagang matagal nang wala ang Sparrow Unit.”
[We have not monitored any activities — although there were incidents in the past three years, if I am not mistaken that there are 136 accordingly recorded. But these are monitored and the Sparrow Unit has long been gone.]
But on Monday, Albayalde said in a press briefing: “The NPA Sparrow Unit I was referring to was the notorious hit squad of the defunct Alex Bongcayao Brigade of the Manila-Rizal Regional Party Committee of Filemon Lagman, belonging to the rejectionist wing of the CPP-NPA-NDF led by Arturo Tabara and Romulo Kintanar.”
CPP-NPA-NDF are initials for Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, and National Democratic Front.
“It was disbanded by the pro-Sison reaffirmist wing of the CPP/NPA/NDF in early 1990’s during its second rectification period. But since then, the pro-Sison reaffirmist wing also adopted its Sparrow-like operations against their perceived enemies reportedly including the assassinations of Lagman, Tabara and Kintanar in early 2000,” he said.
According to Albayalde, over the last three years, there have been 136 hits on soldiers, police officers, rebel returnees, local government officials, and tribal leaders attributed to the Sparu or the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the NPA.
“These hit squads are now popularly referred to as Sparrows,” he said, citing that they were usually based in rural areas to stage partisan operations unlike the former Sparrow Unit that was based in urban areas.
According to Albayalde, the latest attacks of the Sparrow Unit include the ambush of two soldiers at the Las Navas public market in Northern Samar on Nov. 27; the assassination of Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Jesus Zaavedra in Pio Duran, Albay; and the botched assassination attempt in Catbalogan City of former Mayor Aran Boller of Matuginao, Samar.
“There is strong possibility that it will stage more hits depending on how the communist movement would want to utilize the SPU/SOG’s specialized capability for small unit missions against vulnerable targets,” he said.
“There is also the likelihood that some misled guerrilla fronts under maverick and enterprising commanders may offer the services of the SPU/SOG for political assassinations,” he also said.
Albayalde said the capability of the hit squad should be addressed with an “equally-specialized counter measure” to reduce possible further attacks.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte said he might be forced to create his own Sparrow Unit aimed to look for prospective members of the NPA.
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