No presence of SPARU for years – PNP

Published December 1, 2018, 11:02 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Aaron Recuenco

For years, police intelligence units have not been monitoring the presence of the infamous hit squads of the New People’s Army (NPA) in any part of the country.

PNP CHIEF DIR GEN. Oscar Albayalde, speaks during a press conferecne about the recently concluded Barangay and SK Election 2018, at the PNP National Election Monitoring Center (NEMAC) at Camp Crame in Quezon City, May 15 2018. According to the PNP, the election is generally peaceful. (Mark Balmores)
PNP CHIEF DIR GEN. Oscar Albayalde (Mark Balmores)

But Director General Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said that President Duterte may have his own sources with regard to the continuous operations of the Special Partisan Units (SPARU), especially in areas where the communist rebels usually operate.

What they know and were able to validate, according to Albayalde, were 136 deaths being attributed to the attacks of the communist rebels in some parts of the country in the past three years.

“We have not monitored the presence of the SPARU units for a long time although there were killings recorded in the past three years,” said Albayalde in an interview over dzBB.

The SPARU gained notoriety in the 1980s for assassinations of soldiers, policemen, politicians and businessmen whom the rebels accused of corruption and other wrongdoings. It was during the 1980s when the strength of the NPA peaked at more than 25,000.

But SPARUs began to fade away over the years as government forces have intensified its operations against the communist rebels. Based on the latest assessment, the strength of the NPA is estimated at more or less 4,000.

The discussion about SPARU, however, was revived after President Duterte threatened to create his own liquidation squad to match what he called SPARU unit operations.

While stating that the SPARU has long been gone, Albayalde said Duterte might have been angered by the series of attacks of the communist rebels even in the middle of the peace negotiations. Those attacks prompted Duterte to cancel the peace talks.

The Chief PNP mentioned the death of three policemen in an ambush in Camarines Sur in October, the attack on police station in Samar, and the death of nine farmers in Negros Occidental.

“This might have triggered the President to issue such statement,” said Albayalde. But so far, the PNP chief said they have not received any order from Malacanang about the formation of hit squads against the communist rebels in the police organization.

“We have not received any directive. We have been talking with the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) that if in case that pushes through, we need to discuss how it would be formed,” said Albayalde.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, it was recalled, was quoted saying that he in favor of the President’s proposal provided that those who would compose the hit squads are soldiers in order to ensure accountability for any mistakes or abuses.

What they did, according to Albayalde, was to deploy additional police forces in areas mentioned in the Memorandum Order 32—Samar, Negros Oriental and Occidental and Bicol region.