Lorenzana: No license to kill

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The composite anti-terror force that the government will form against the communist New People’s Army (NPA) will be strictly supervised and will not be given blanket authority in their operations, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

“There should be very strong supervision… It should be composed of police and military men, so that there will be accountability,” Lorenzana added.

In the past three years, the NPA liquidated at least 136 policemen, soldiers and tribal leaders

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier had vowed to create a counter-terror squad of his own to protect soldiers and policemen.

The Palace issued Memorandum Order 32 for the deployment of more troops in provinces heavily infested with NPA rebels.

It allows the creation of strike forces against rebel groups operating mostly in Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and the Bicol region.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea issued the order last 22 November amid “sporadic acts of violence allegedly committed by lawless groups, particularly in the provinces of Samar, Negros Oriental and Occidental and Bicol region.”

Lawlessness state propped
“There is a need to reinforce the directive of the President in order to prevent further loss of innocent lives and destruction of property and bring the whole country back to a state of complete normalcy as quick as possible,” he said in the memorandum order.

The whole country remains under a “state of lawlessness” after the 2 September 2016 bombing of a night market in Davao City that killed 15 persons which was later claimed by the terror Maute group.

Lorenzana stressed the need for the government to control the forming of the counter-terror unit.

He said rebel atrocities continue despite the NPA Special Partisan Units (Sparus) being long gone.

There should be very strong supervision…it should be composed of police and military men.

136 cops in 3 years
“Liquidation operations of the rebel group continued, prompting President Duterte’s idea to create his own counter-terror squad,” he explained.

In the past three years, the NPA killed at least 136 policemen, soldiers and tribal leaders, according to the defense chief.

“Maybe the name Sparu no longer exists. Maybe they have changed the name, but there are still people doing Sparu-like operations of killing,” he said.

The Defense chief pointed out that while there is no resurgence of NPA liquidation, the threat against government security forces remains, especially after Communist Party of the Philippines founding chair Jose Maria Sison ordered the NPA to kill one policeman or soldier a day.

Maybe the name Sparu no longer exists, maybe they have changed the name but there are still people doing Sparu-like operations.

Just last month, Lorenzana said a motorcycle-riding soldier in Negros was shot dead by riding-in-tandem suspects.

“These are Sparu operations, so we are not going to sit down, stand by and watch our people being killed. We have to do something. That’s why the President said ‘If they can do that, we can also do it,’” he added.

The NPA Sparus, otherwise known as Sparrow units, gained notoriety in the late 1980s by their liquidation operations of law enforcers in broad daylight.

The government, however, managed to check the spread of the assassination teams as the communist rank began to dwindle.

Interim measure
Lorenzana said the deployment of more soldiers in provinces will be temporary “to help troops on the ground.”

He added the order was warranted because the presence of NPA forces in the provinces covered by the memorandum order remains formidable.

“The enemy remains strong. The NPA keeps doing things like burning, killing people. So, this is a preemptive effort to curb them and allow the government to pursue the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program,” he stressed.

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