Only soldiers for ‘death squad’ – Lorenzana
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Tuesday said he was supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte’s desire to create a unit that would go after New People’s Army (NPA) members and suspects but wanted only soldiers to compose the “Duterte death squad.”
The specialized squad, which Lorenzana said would be formed before the end of the year, would have at its core intelligence personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
In an interview aired on Tuesday over CNN Philippines, Lorenzana said NPA “sparrows” (formally special partisan unit or Sparu) remained active.
“They (NPA) may not call it Sparu now, but there are still people in the NPA who do these things (assassinations),” he said.
“We still call them Sparu because that’s what they have been doing, sparrow-like [operations],” Lorenzana added.
He belied Communist Party of the Philippines founding chair Jose Maria Sison’s claim that the Sparu stopped existing in the 1980s.
“How come there are still so many soldiers dying, getting killed [by the NPA] using the same modus operandi as the Sparu?” Lorenzana said.
“So maybe they changed the name. But it’s just like the same dog, different collar,” he said.
The defense secretary said the anti-Sparu military unit had to be “very carefully” organized.
“Some quarters are saying we’ll get civilians to do it, I think no,” Lorenzana said.
“This will be very difficult for civilians to do this,” he said.
“They might take it upon themselves, they might think they have blanket authority to just kill anybody they suspect of being NPA,” he added.
“I want soldiers to be our anti-Sparu unit members and this should be supervised by officers,” Lorenzana said.
He added that there should be thorough vetting of suspected NPA members and that a military official should give the go signal for the operations against the verified target.
He explained that this system would ensure that there was accountability and responsibility in the anti-Sparu unit.
In coming up with a counter Sparu force, Lorenzana said that it was the President’s response after being alarmed by the number of soldiers and policemen getting killed in the NPA’s “sparrow-like” operations.
Philippine National Police records showed that there have been 136 rebel hits on policemen and soldiers in the past three years.
As for the primary task of the Duterte death squad, Lorenzana said that the unit would “neutralize any NPA force or individual who is going to hurt our soldiers.”
“We cannot just stand by and watch our soldiers get killed everyday by the NPA,” the defense secretary said.