Duterte's creation of death squad still an idea, Palace says
Malacanang said on Thursday the creation of a death squad to counter the sparrow units of communist New People's Army was still an idea, which may or may not happen.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said when President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned the formation of his own death squad, it was just an idea being floated.
"So, it will be studied carefully. What is important to my mind is that the President is doing his job. The Constitution commands him to serve and to protect the Filipino people, and that includes the policemen. So anything that endangers the lives of civilians as well as men in uniform, then the President is mandated by the Constitution to undertake measures to prevent such occurrence," he said.
Asked how the government would recruit members of the death squad, Panelo said, "As I said, that's just an idea. So, let's wait for that idea to be realized."
"He’s floating that idea, and some are responding; others for and others against. Let’s see how it develops," he added.
Panelo could not say yet if the former NPA rebels who surrendered would be the members of the government's death squad.
But he said Duterte was not joking when he brought up the idea of creating a group that would go after the Reds' own sparrow units.
"I don’t think he is joking on this. This involves matter of life and death. You have here the situation of a group killing people. You cannot be joking on this kind of matter. So he floats this idea and then let that idea develops into something real," he added.
He said the mechanics would be worked out so it would not endanger others during the operation.
Certain quarters, including the Commission on Human Rights, have criticized Duterte's plan to form the government's death squad.
In particular, CHR Chairperson Jose Luis Martin "Chito" Gascon said the State always has a duty to protect its citizens from all forms of harm including lawless violence and terrorist acts.
"This duty must at all times be undertaken in accordance with established rules of engagement; due process and rule of law guarantees; and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) principles. IHL requires States to use only regular armed forces under strict military discipline thus this strictly prohibits death squads under all circumstances," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS