President warns police vs return of NPA hitmen

DAVAO CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday warned members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to watch out for the return of the New People’s Army (NPA) hit squad or the so-called Sparrow unit.

While he has no doubt that the police can fight off the communist hitmen, the President stressed to never let their back vulnerable to an open attack or be on a buddy system.

“Bantay kayo diyan (You watch out), because the Sparrows are back,” Duterte warned.

He added that former chiefs of Davao police are going around “giving lectures about strategies to meet the challenges of the assassination.”

The President made the call during the inauguration of the PHP50 million PNP Crime Laboratory and the turnover of the 26 Montero police cars in Ecoland here on Monday.

Duterte hinted at the possible intensified activity of the Sparrow unit, especially now that he has decided to cancel the talk between thye government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

“So be careful,” he said.

The NPA’s Sparrow squad earned their notoriety in mid-‘70s till the early ‘80s.

Davao City Police Office (DCPO) Director, Sr. Supt. Alexander Tagum, said he has instructed Davao cops to be aware and be cautious of the NPA plan to liquidate members of the police and attacks on police outposts.

“We are preparing for that,” Tagum said in an interview on the sidelines of the Crime Lab inauguration.

DCPO lost one of its intelligence officers, PO3 Wilfredo Garol of the Baguio Police Station, last November after two NPA hitmen killed him.

The Army’s 10th Infantry Division and the Police Regional Office (PRO) 11 have also intensified security operations in Davao Region following the killing of Garol.

Maj. Gen. Noel Clement, the commander of 10th Infantry Division, said the NPA is targeting to abduct members of the security forces and the police.

“I have directed our troops to be vigilant not only during operations but also during administrative movement and when visiting their families,” Clement earlier said.

He said soldiers on the ground have intensified their combat operations and responded to civilians’ report on NPA formation in certain areas.

PRO-11 Director, Chief Supt. Manuel Gaerlan, had been alerting all city, municipal police stations and provincial offices to pre-empt NPA-perpetrated activities.