On Wednesday, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte declared that he is open to creating a "death squad," Reuters reported. According to exiled Communist Party of the Philippines leader, Jose Maria Sison, Duterte will effectively issue a "license to kill" political opponents and critics, as well as activists.
“That is their advantage. So I am going to create my own sparrow, the ‘Duterte Death Squad’,” the president said, referencing an alleged Communist Party killing squad which was reportedly prominent in the 1970s and 1980s under Ferdinand Marcos' rule.
“He gives himself the reason to form his own death squads,” Sison, who denies the existence of the sparrows, told the ANC news channel.
The “sparrows” were reportedly deployed, during the dictatorship of Marcos, to combat police.
Leftist groups, such as Bayan, have denounced Duterte’s statement, declaring that the remark is a justification for creating a death squad, tasked with persecution, for “inciting a killing spree against government critics, human rights defenders and just about everyone else tagged by the government as ‘Red’.”
Critics of Duterte on the left are concerned that implementation of a death squad could unleash mass killings comparable to that of the 'Drug War,' further deepening the climate of fear and impunity which plague the Philippines.
The president, who is known for repressing political dissent and promoting the killing of suspects of drug trafficking and consumption, has led a brutal drug-war which has resulted in the deaths of some 4,800 people.