Philippine military intel units to serve as core of gov’t hit squads vs NPA
MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday that the military’s intelligence units would be at the center of the government’s hit squad against communist rebels.
“The core of this would be intelligence units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Merong Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. They can form the core of anti-sparrow units,” he said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source.
President Rodrigo Duterte last week ordered the creation of the government’s own sparrow units to go after members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and its sympathizers.
The term “sparrow unit” stemmed from the Special Partisan Unit or SPARU of the NPA, which referred to the rebels’ hit squads that gained notoriety in the 1980s.
But Lorenzana said the government’s sparrow units would not be assassination squads: “We are not assassinating top officials of the government but we will neutralize NPA force or individuals who will hurt our soldiers.”
While the defense chief backed the President’s idea to protect soldiers from attacks of communist rebels, he said this squad should be organized with circumspect.
“Some quarters are saying to let civilians do it. But no, they might take upon themselves, they might think they have a blanket authority to kill anybody. I want soldiers to be our anti-sparrow unit members and they should be supervised by officers. It should be carefully vetted, ang go signal ay galing sa opisyal para may accountability,” he noted.
Lorenzana said he hopes the government’s hit squad units would be formed before the year ends. /kga