Pimente: ‘Don’t take Duterte seriously on death squad’
No one in government is authorized to kill — not even President Rodrigo Duterte, according to one of his top allies in the Senate.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III on Monday dismissed the President’s widely criticized threat of forming the government’s own death squad to hunt down communist rebels and their sympathizers, saying this was impossible under the law.
“Don’t take that seriously. That cannot be done,” said Pimentel, president of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan.
“No one is authorized to kill. Even government is not authorized to kill,” Pimentel said at a press briefing in his Senate office.
‘My own Sparrow’
The former Senate President said the debate over the revival of the death penalty was proof that the government did not have the power under the country’s judicial system to order anyone killed.
Last week, the President announced he would form “my own Sparrow,” referring to the special partisan unit of the New People’s Army (NPA) that gained notoriety in the 1980s for assassinating government targets in urban areas.
“They will do nothing but look for idlers who are prospective [NPA] members and take them out,” the President said of the government’s death squad.
His instructions to what he called the “Duterte death squad,” the President said, is “get one or two” rebels.
The comment drew condemnation from critics, including the political opposition and human rights advocates.
Response to killings
Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. on Monday said the President’s desire to create a death squad was in response to the killings of 136 policemen, soldiers, tribal leaders and government officials by the NPA’s hit teams in the past three years.
“There is really a need to counter this [NPA unit]. And to counter this is to make our personnel vigilant, and we need to counter this with the organization of a counter-sparrow force,” Galvez said.
But the AFP chief would rather drop “death squad” in favor of a different name for the special government unit. He also stressed that the unit’s task should be left to security forces and not involve civilians.
In an interview after Monday’s flag-raising rites at Camp Aguinaldo, Galvez said the squad that would pursue the NPA’s assassination unit would be called “counter-sparrow force.”
The force, he said, would focus primarily on intelligence-building and gathering to hunt down NPA rebels.
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