MANILA - The Philippine National Police (PNP) is gearing up for possible attacks on uniformed personnel after President Rodrigo Duterte warned about the supposed reactivation of the New People's Army's (NPA) Special Partisan Unit (Sparu), an urban hit squad targeting law enforcers, government officials and volunteers.
PNP chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said in a press conference Thursday morning that the President ordered the conduct of an orientation program for young police officers deployed in the field.
“Mayroon kaming on-going ngayon re-orientation sa ating mga tao doon sa field regarding pag-iingat para hindi ka maging biktima sa isang SPARU operation,” Dela Rosa said.
The PNP chief said the force has commissioned retired seasoned policemen to conduct the orientation program.
"Mayroon kaming mga old, retired police officers na kinomisyon ni Presidente mismo para mag-orient mismo nitong mga batang officers na kulang na sa exposure sa laban sa insurgency, bigay nila 'yung kanilang alam para malaman ito ng ating mga batang pulis about the modus operandi of the Sparu operations,” he said.
The orientation program is ongoing across the country just as the NPA "stepped up" SPARU operations, Dela Rosa said.
"Ongoing 'yan, umiikot ang grupo na 'yan at nagbibigay ng education. Siguro mga less than 10 sila na umiikot sa buong bansa para magbigay ng advice sa ating mga kapulisan. Totoo 'yun na nag-step up sila (NPA) sa kanilang mga SPARU operations,” he explained.
Dela Rosa said police are now gathering casualty reports. He cited a recent case where a soldier and policeman were shot, and another incident in Agusan del Sur where a soldier and his wife were attacked outside a bank.
“Mayroon na tayong mga reports na mga pulis at sundalo na binaril na lang. 'Yung latest ngayon, sinasabi ni Presidente kahapon isang sundalo kasama 'yung kaniyang asawa sa Agusan del Sur, Bayugan or San Francisco, Agusan del Sur. Kawawang sundalo," he said.
According to Director Camilo Cascolan, PNP Director for Operations, there were a total of 65 SPARU-related incidents recorded from January 2017 to March 22, 2018.
Of this number, 56 attacks were reported in 2017 while nine incidents have so far been recorded this year.
The Davao Region had the highest number of attacks in 2017 with 21 incidents, while 4 have been recorded in the area this year so far.
Bicol Region came in second with 10 incidents last year and 3 so far for 2018.
Government has pursued offensives against communist rebels across the country following the collapse of peace negotiations last year.
Duterte earlier declared the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA as a terror group. In February, the Department of Justice filed a petition before a Manila court seeking to formalize the declaration.