Manila, Nov 28 (IANS) Several parties and human rights groups on Wednesday criticized the Philippine President for threatening to create his own death squad to target Communists.
Members of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines, lawmakers, leftist groups and human rights groups warned that Rodrigo Duterte’s intention to form his own team of hitmen to fight Maoist guerrillas of the New People’s Army would aggravate violence and the climate of impunity that has been a feature of his rule, reports Xinhua news agency.
“What I lack is my own sparrow. That is where they (Communists) have an edge. So I will create my own sparrow, Duterte Death Squad against the sparrow,” the President said in a speech in Bohol on Tuesday night to members of the armed forces.
“Sparrows” is the name given to militia allegedly created by the NPA during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos (1965-86) to kill police officers.
“I will match their talent also for assassinating people,” said Duterte, who claimed he had tried to hold peace talks with the NPA but that it had responded by killing police officials and soldiers.
Jose Maria Sison, the founder of the Communist Party, who has been living in exile in the Netherlands for decades, on Wednesday denied the existence of sparrow units and said Duterte was using it as a pretext to kill alleged rebels.
Senator Antonio Trillanes, one of the most vocal critics of Duterte, said the leader was trying to instill fear in the Philippine people as it was his only way to maintain control of the country.
Human Rights Watch also criticized Duterte’s remarks, which it described as a “declaration of open season against rebels, leftists, civilians, and critics of the government”.