MANILA - Police and military forces have started talks on forming a specialized unit that will target suspected assassins of the New People's Army, the head of the Philippine National Police said Thursday.
Director General Oscar Albayalde said he has talked to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that if ever a directive is handed to them, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police would have to discuss who will control the group, which he said would not be a death squad, but a "specialized unit."
"This will start with all intelligence work muna," he told ANC's Headstart.
"We’re starting to talk with the Armed Forces of the Philippines so that when we have the go-signal then we can launch this," he said.
President Duterte first floated the idea late last month, saying he would one day be forced to create his own Special Partisan Unit--referred to by the military as "SPARU" or "sparrows"--which will do nothing else but hunt down suspected New People's Army assassins.
Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison said this would be nothing but a "license again for military officers to just kill anyone." He also claimed that the SPARU operatives "don’t exist anymore in the way they existed in the 1970s and 1980s."
But Albayalde maintained that while the term might no longer be used today, the AFP has recorded 136 deaths for the past 3 years in "SPARU-like operations," where assassins target police or military officials.