Elite unit vs hit men

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Cream of the crop Soldiers march in formation during a ceremony at the AFP headquarters. The military is gathering “the best and the brightest” to form the anti-terror squad against communist assassins. AFP

The “best and the brightest” in the military will compose the anti-terror squad conceptualized by President Rodrigo Duterte against communist assassins, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

Lorenzana said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is targeting forming the crack military team within the month and the composition of the unit is now being finalized.

The composite troop will primarily target members of the Special Partisan Unit (Sparu) who are communist assassins who target members of security forces.

The anti-terror squad will be made up mainly of operatives of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) which will be augmented by intelligence units from the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Marines, the Defense chief said.

The anti-Sparu squad will then get its own people and train them, he added.

The activation of the unit was in compliance with Mr. Duterte’s wish for a body to counter the NPA’s (New People’s Army) liquidation unit that gained notoriety in the 1980s and 1990s for targeting law enforcers.

The Defense secretary said the anti-terror squad will be activated “as soon as possible, before the year ends.”

He stressed the unit will not have the license to kill but its primary task is to protect soldiers and policemen from NPA assassins.

“We are not an assassination squad. We are going to neutralize any NPA force or individual who is going to hurt our soldiers,” he added.

Latest available data showed at least 136 soldiers and policemen had been killed by NPA hit squads in recent years.

No SOMO

Relatedly, Lorenzana said he will not recommend the declaration of suspension of offensive military operations (SOMO) with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA.

He said the CPP-NPA would only use the SOMO in celebrating its 50th anniversary on 26 December which is traditionally marked by atrocities.

“I have objected to a SOMO. We shall not allow the CPP to use a SOMO to celebrate its 50th anniversary,” he explained.

CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison expressed intention for the CPP-NPA to observe a unilateral truce during the holiday season.

“That’s their call. We are not keen on a ceasefire,” he added.

NPA’s Lupang Sinira

The military, meanwhile, released documents to prove its earlier allegations of indoctrination in schools where minority Lumad children are being brought and taught with odd subjects not found in other schools.

Documents seized by government troops from the Salugpungan Ta’Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center Inc in Barangay Mangayon, Compostela Valley on 23 January 2014 showed a different version of the National Anthem allegedly being taught to Lumad children.

The NPA supposedly teach minors an alternative version of the Philippine National Anthem, “Lupang Hinirang,” as part of its efforts to fight the government and demonize troops, AFP Public Affairs Office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said.

“That has been confirmed years ago by a minor who was once in a Salugpungan school. It (“Lupang Sinira” (Destroyed Land) is the rebel version of “Lupang Hinirang” (Beloved land)) and teaches children to fight the government,” Detoyato said.

“Schools are supposed to teach children love of country and be responsible Filipino citizens and contribute to nation-building,” he added. “The National Anthem they are teaching in Salugpungan is not an alternative version. It is a bastardized version and is an insult to the Filipinos and to our national heroes who fought and died just for the National Anthem to be sung freely by the Filipinos of today and Filipinos of tomorrow.”

Earlier, former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo had denied claimed minors in the Davao region are being taught the “Lupang Sinira” as stated by Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde.

His claim, however, was junked after documents recovered by military units in Compostela Valley in January 2014 showed a copy of the “Lupang Sinira” which is sung to the tune of “Lupang Hinirang.”

Ocampo condemned

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) condemned Bayan Muna president and former solon Satur Ocampo and his companions’ activities which included the alleged trafficking of 14 Lumad minors.

In a statement released on Monday, NCIP also condemned Ocampo’s group for what it calls disregard of the right of Ata-Manobo Indigenous Cultural Communities or Indigenous Peoples (IP) of Talaingod, Davao del Norte to “free and prior informed consent, manipulations and misinterpretations as to the true intent of the schools and lack of recognition of community authority and customary laws.”

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