Leftist congressmen: Duterte inciting civilians to kill

MANILA, Philippines – Leftist congressmen from the Makabayan bloc on Wednesday, November 28, denounced President Rodrigo Duterte's bid to create a death squad against communist rebels, saying this would encourage civilians to "commit murder."

“We denounce President Duterte's plan to create Duterte death squads against the New People's Army.... He is inciting civilians to commit murder in blatant disregard of the right to life and the constitutionally guaranteed right to due process,” said ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio.

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said under Duterte's planned death squad against the New People's Army (NPA), the Chief Executive was promoting state-sanctioned vigilante killing, as that group would become the sole prosecutor, judge, and executioner of NPA rebels.

“Talagang ‘di katanggap-tanggap ‘yan kahit sa usapin ng karapatang pantao. Dahil we have to remember, noong sinabi rin niya ang mga drug addicts, kung ‘di kayo titigil, mamatay kayo [ay] ilang libo ang namatay,” said Zarate. 

(This is unacceptable because of the aspect of human rights. We have to remember, when he told drug addicts that many of them will die if they won’t stop, thousands of them died.)

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency estimated that nearly 5,000 people have been killed during the first two years of Duterte’s bloody drug war. But human rights groups said the actual number of deaths reach as high as around 20,000.

For Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao, Duterte's plan only confirmed that the death squad was not only a mere plan but was already operating under the Duterte administration.

“Ang death squad ni Duterte ay nasa loob at labas ng formal na organization ng security forces. Kaya walang maniwala sa sinabi nyang bubuuin pa lang (Duterte's death squad is within and outside the formal organization of security forces. That's why no one believes him that he is only about to form it), said Casilao.

“Nariyan na ‘yan, kaya lumalala ang EJK (extrajudicial killings) sa ilalim ng rehimeng Duterte. Ang problema hindi NPA ang pinapatay nila dahil mga duwag. Mga inosenteng mamamayan ang binibiktima,” he added. 

(It has always been there, that's why the extrajudicial killings under the Duterte regime is worsening. The problem is that these cowards are not killing the NPA. They are killing innocent civilians.)

In the Senate, the President's plan drew mixed reactions, as some senators condemned it, while others sought to downplay it as something that Duterte would not seriously pursue.

Speaking in front of soldiers in Bohol on Tuesday, November 27, Duterte announced he was creating his own "sparrow units" or hit squads targetting communist rebels.

The term "sparrow units" evolved from the acronym SPARU or Special Partisan Unit of the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. SPARUs were the NPA's hit squads.

Duterte declared the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA as terrorist organizations in December 2017. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.