DAVAO CITY, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to form his own Duterte Death Squad to counter the communist’s New People’s Army (NPA) “Sparrow” units is an admission that his administration is involved in the series of state-sponsored killings across the country, the militant lumad group Pasaka said.
“Duterte’s statement to form a death squad is also a formalization of the extra-judicial killing of progressives, social activists and critique,” said Kerlan Fanagel, chairperson of Pasaka-Southern Mindanao.
“This is both an admission of the current state-sponsored killings that are happening right now nationwide,” Fanagel said, adding that formation of a government death squad could be viewed as “a move to legalize paramilitary group such as the notorious Alamara.”
On Tuesday, Duterte announced the formation of his own death squad to counter NPA hitmen during his visit to Camp Rajah Sikatuna in Bohol.
“I am trying to make peace with them and they do not want it. They keep on killing my police and soldiers. Now then, what I lack is my version of sparrows, because that’s their advantage,” Duterte said. “In the field, that is a fight. I will create a sparrow [unit]. Duterte Death Squad, against the sparrow. There is no problem with that, they are enemies.”
“I will match [the NPA’s sparrow units’] talent in assassinating people. For sure, they have arms. That is what I want to do,” Duterte added.
According to Fanagel, the President’s DDS can be used “as a tool of the government to carry out extra-judicial killings or forced disappearances against the critics of the Duterte administration.”
“With a President entertaining the idea of forming a death squad, we viewed his pronouncement as a support to encourage government forces to kill political enemies. But we see this as a sign of desperation of an ever weakening US-Duterte regime,” Fanagel said.
Fanagel warned that Duterte’s death squad would only encourage, the government-backed paramilitary unit Alamara to continue sowing fear among peasants and indigenous peoples in the countryside
“If his [Duterte] death squad will start its mission, killings will go unabated,” Fanagel said, citing that since 2016, in Southern Mindanao region alone, 86 cases of extra-judicial killings were documented, 14 of which were Lumad. (davaotoday.com)