Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte said he plans to create a “death squad’’ to counter communist rebels’ assassination units and prevent guerrilla attacks.

Duterte noted that while his administration was trying to resume peace negotiations with communist rebels, the initiatives were being hampered by the group’s continued attacks on civilians, soldiers and policemen.

“The only thing missing is my own sparrow unit. That’s their only advantage,’’ he said referring to the two-or three-man assassination squads run by the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

“So I will create my own sparrow. Duterte death squad against the sparrow.’’

“I will match their talent also for assassinating people,’’ Duterte added. “If you see three or four (communist rebels), kill them all. Filing court cases are too dragging.’’

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Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, said security officials will “study (the plan) very closely’’ to determine who will make up the hit squad, who will be the targets, and who will supervise and be accountable for the operations.

“There is great danger of abuse or mistakes in these undercover operations,’’ he told CNN Philippines on Wednesday. “One way to prevent this is for someone higher up to give the go-signal after careful and thorough vetting.’’

“The operatives should have no blanket authority,’’ Lorenzana added.

Philippine communist rebels have been fighting the government since the late 1960s, making the movement one of the longest-running leftist insurgencies in Asia.

Duterte officially terminated peace talks with them in November 2017 amid escalating attacks, and subsequently formally designated the guerrillas as terrorists.