MANILA — The "death squad" recently proposed by President Rodrigo Duterte to carry out his constitutional mandate to protect the law enforcers from New People’s Army (NPA)’s hit squad Sparrow Unit was "just an idea," Malacanang clarified Thursday.

“I think the President was just bringing up an idea. So, let’s wait for that idea to be realized,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo explained in a Palace press briefing.

“What is important to my mind is the President is doing his job. The Constitution commands him to serve and to protect the Filipino people, and that includes policemen,” he added.

Panelo also explained that the death squad still needs to be studied carefully by the Department of National Defense (DND) and other concerned government agencies.

“The idea of creating an anti-Sparrow Unit is just an idea as of now. He’s floating that idea, and some are responding; others for and others against. Let’s see how it develops,” Panelo said.

“If that idea becomes a reality… as Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana said, the army will be in charge of that,” he added.

He said the idea of death squad as expressed by Duterte in his speech in Bohol last Tuesday “can either come into fruition or not.”

Panelo said a proposal to recruit former NPA rebels to join men in uniform to be part of the death squad is also an idea that aims to easily identify members of the NPA’s Sparrow Unit.

“You need those who surrendered coming from the NPAs to join so that these people know who the members of the Sparrow Units are, so they can easily point – mas mabuti iyong kilala mo kung sino iyong miyembro, kasi mga kasamahan nila iyon eh. (It would be easy if you know who are the members because they are their former comrades),” he added.

Panelo denied claims that the plan to form death squad could be a violation of the rebels’ due process.

“Why are you violating due process? You’re running after criminals. You’re running after people who will assassinate us, so how can that be? You will prevent it actually from happening,” Panelo said.

“We have a situation here where there is a group of men who will kill with impunity. What do you want the state to do, just sit idle and watch? We cannot do that. It’s the duty of the state to protect its citizens,” he added.

He assured the public that no human rights violations will be committed under Duterte’s proposal.

“The President will never undertake any measure without basis. He has all the resources in the world to back him up,” he said. (PNA)