Defense chief favors ‘Sparrow Unit’ with soldiers as ‘hitmen’

DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Wednesday, November 28, that he is in favor of the possible formation of the government’s own Sparrow unit similar to the hit squad of the New People’s Army (NPA) during the 80s.

“Pabor ako diyan, pero ang gagamitin natin, mga sundalo, hindi kung sinu-sino lang. Dapat merong accountability. Dapat may clearance from their commander (lahat ng operations). Hindi sila pwedeng bigyan ng blanket authority na tirahin ang kahit sino gusto nilang tirahin,” Lorenzana said in a television interview.

On Tuesday, November 27, President Rodrigo Duterte said in a speech in Bohol that he is thinking of forming a sparrow unit that will target members of the NPA.

He said he will call it the “Duterte Death Squad Against the sparrow."

READ: Duterte eyes own 'Sparrow Unit' against NPA

Sparrow, also known as the Special Partisan Unit (Sparu), is the NPA's urban hit squad known for the assassination of policemen and soldiers during the time of then President Ferdinand Marcos.

"One of these days, I'll be forced also to create my own Sparrow. Walang hanapin kung hindi yung mga nag-stand by na tao diyan suspected as NPAs at bibirahin rin sila (My own unit will have to look for idlers suspected as NPAs, and they will be assaulted)," Duterte said.

"Makakuha ka lang ng isa dalawa, maka-identify na, 'Iyan sir, kasama namin,' okay na iyan (If you find one or two identified by someone as a member of NPA, that would be fine). I will match their talent also of assassinating people. May armas iyan sigurado. 'Yun ang balak ko (They are probably armed, so that's my plan)," he added.

Duterte made the statement amid the collapse of the peace talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

However, despite expressing support to Duterte’s plan, Lorenzana said having such special unit has a great danger for abuse or mistakes during undercover operations.

“Mistakes in identifying their target. Baka kamukha lang o ininguso (itinuro) ng ibang tao,” he said.

“One way to prevent this is for someone higher up to give the go signal after careful and thorough vetting. Dapat walang blanket authority ‘yung mga operatives,” he added.

For his part, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde said there should be a strict and keen selection of those who will be part of Duterte’s sparrow unit and that they should be well-trained.

“Kung talagang qualified ‘yung mga tao doon sa lugar, they have to undergo the processing also. The normal processing to own firearms. The firearms will be legal, licensed, and they need to have a permit to carry firearms in residence also. They have to undergo the processing. I'm sure hindi naman ‘yung arbitrary ‘yung pagbibigay ng firearms kung kani-kanino yan. Hindi magiging arbitrary,” he said.

However, he said the PNP has yet to receive any directive from the commander-in-chief regarding the matter. (SunStar Philippines)


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