Henchman turns against Duterte

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ANOTHER self-confessed “Davao Death Squad” henchman has turned against President Rodrigo Duterte, accusing him of ordering the executions of crime suspects and paying as much as P100,000 for every kill when he was mayor of Davao City.

Retired policeman Arthur Lascañas. PHOTO BY BOB DUNGO JR.

Arthur Lascañas, a former police officer, appeared in a news conference called by Duterte critic Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th on Monday, accompanied by members of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).

Lascañas admitted that he lied before a Senate inquiry last year when he denied the existence of the death squad, and said he could corroborate the testimony of principal witness Edgar Matobato, who claimed to have knowledge of hundreds of summary killings between 1988 and 2013.

Lascañas claimed Duterte organized the death squad.


“The Davao Death Squad is real. He (Matobato) is our member and I am one of the leaders (of the group),” he told Senate reporters.

He also claimed to have received P20,000 to P50,000 from Duterte per operation, and the payments could go as high as P100,000 depending on who the target was. He also said Duterte sometimes gave him an allowance of P100,000.

Recanting his testimony before the Senate justice committee last year, Lascañas said his conscience could no longer bear the “lies” and “suffering” he had gone through because of his “blind obedience” to Duterte.

“Mamatay man ako o papatayin ako, kontento na ‘ko na nagawa ang promise ko sa Diyos na magsagawa ng isang public confession [If I die or I am killed, I’m contented because I already fulfilled my promise to God to make a public confession],” Lascañas said.

‘Reporters paid $1,000 each’

Palace officials swiftly dismissed Lascañas’ claims, with Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar even claiming Senate reporters were paid $1,000 each to publish the “demolition job.”

Andanar however backpedaled following a statement from the Senate press corps condemning the Cabinet official’s claim.

“The demolition job against President Duterte continues. The press conference of self-confessed hit man SPO3 Arthur Lascañas is part of a protracted political drama aimed [at destroying]the President and [toppling]his administration,” Andanar said in a statement.

On CNN Philippines, he claimed: “We have received reports that as much as $1,000 were given away in the press conference. I won’t name my source but supposedly there are people who were given this amount for the coverage of the event. Journalists are supposedly handed over the money.”

Andanar later clarified that he did not accuse any particular journalist of taking the bribe.

“There was someone who offered the amount, but I don’t know if the money was received. But somebody told me about it,” said the former TV5 news presenter.

Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo claimed Lascañas received P3 million in exchange for his “confession.”

“Somebody said that Lascañas received P3 million for that. He only intends to malign the President. He is not credible,” Panelo said in a radio interview.

“President Duterte is a lawyer, and a lawyer won’t say that he is involved in an illegal activity,” he added.

Operations

Lascañas, a former Senior Police Officer (SPO) 3, narrated some of the operations carried out by his group, including one that made the name of the Davao Death Squad known to the public.

He recalled the operation against a suspected drug lord in Davao City, identified as Allan Tancio.

Lascañas said they killed only Tancio’s aide and did not seize any quantity of shabu during the raid. But they left a note that said: “Huwag pamarisan [Don’t emulate] – Davao Death Squad.”

He confirmed Matobato’s testimony that Duterte ordered a mosque bombed in retaliation for the explosion at San Pedro Cathedral in Davao City in 1993. Duterte, he said, personally gave the order to bomb mosques in Davao City but the death squad managed to bomb only one.

The DDS was also responsible for the massacre of a family, including a five-year-old boy and a pregnant woman. The husband was suspected of masterminding the abduction of a “Mrs. Abaca” more than two decades ago, Lascañas said.

The death squad was ordered to conduct a follow-up operation after the release of the kidnap victim, and was able to intercept the supposed mastermind, which he identified only as Mr. Patasaha.

The group did not know that the family of Patasaha was with him that day. As a result, Patasaha and his family members were taken to the Laud quarry, Lascañas said.

They interrogated Patasaha and later informed Duterte that the former had confessed. The then Davao City mayor, according to Lascañas, gave the order to kill them all, including the child and the pregnant woman.

Lascañas also admitted he was hired to assassinate radio broadcaster Jun Pala, a critic of Duterte, and that he got more than P2 million for it.

Lascañas became emotional when he admitted he had allowed his two brothers to be killed because of their involvement in illegal drugs.

He named other members of the DDS, such as Major Asintista, Major Macasaet, SP01 Jun Tan, SP01 Jonito Obales, SPO2 Jun Marisma, SP03 Gerry Baguhin, SP03 Teodoro Pagidupon, SP04 Florencio Pabo, SPO4 Ben Laot and SPO4 Desiderio Florebel.

Voluntary recantation

Lawyer Arno Sanidad of FLAG said Lascañas recanted voluntarily and was willing to provide more information at the proper time and venue.

FLAG wants the Senate or any government body to hear Lascañas testimony. “FLAG has always stood for human rights and for accountability and we will do everything in our power to ensure that everyone from the highest position to the lowest is held accountable for their wrongdoing,” he said.

Sanidad said the serious allegations against Duterte could be used as grounds for an impeachment complaint.

“We would like to believe that when a person runs for president he presents himself as an honorable man, free of any serious crimes or legal liabilities,” he said.

Trillanes said he would ask the Senate to allow the proper committee to look into Lascañas’ latest claims.

But Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said he had no intention to listen to the testimony, adding that Lascañas should be charged with perjury.

“Lascañas has made a mockery of the solemn proceedings of the Senate. He should be made to pay for the
grave disrespect he has shown to this institution,” he said.

“Unless Lascañas can provide actual, concrete evidence to link the President to extrajudicial killings, I would not rely too much on this retired cop’s tall tales,” he added.

Senator Panfilo Lacson said he was willing to call for a hearing if the testimony is referred to his public order and dangerous drugs committee.

But he said it was unlikely Lascañas’ testimony would be referred to his committee because it is a continuation of Matobato’s testimony, which was handled by the justice and human rights panel headed by Sen. Richard Gordon. Matobato is out on bail on a murder case, and is being kept in a safe house.

Lacson said it would also be difficult to reopen the investigation because the committee had submitted a report.

with  LLANESCA T. PANTI

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13 Comments

  1. If the price is right, there will be more to come. What’s the buzz? We all know Du30 KILLS CRIMINALS AND Drug pushers in Davao and that even bolstered his campaign and made him President. What’s New to that? Unlike Aquino’s who let saf 44 get killed without any help and the farmers who protested for the rights in mendiola and luisita. Who is the real killer?

  2. Jaime Dela Cruz on

    If he lied in the senate hearing where he was sworn in with a bible, who’s to say he’s not lying now. And if Trillanes is involved, then we all know that this is just another circus.

  3. EJK on the left, Envelopmental Journalism on the right, and a sanababitching president at the center, this is becoming confusingly complicated

  4. Make the Criminals, Drug Lords and Drug addicts, Corrupt Officials martyrs. This is not new. These Human Rights Lawyers kuno, just like the FLAG of Sanidad has done it before by making the NPA’s, NDF and its members who were captured and incarcerated as Human Rights Victims during Marcos time but the fact if we are having war with these armed rebels. Atty Sanidad and his cohorts has made us suckers during those times, but now we have learned our lessons and know the true colors of this so called Human Rights NGO’S. To Atty. Sanidad- MANIGAS KA. KUMITA NA YAN GIMMICK NA YAN! and to DU30- SIGE PA! UBUSIN MO LAHAT ANG MGA SALOT NG BAYAN NG TAYO AY TUMAHIMIK AT UMASENSO!

  5. If you recant a lie it doesn’t mean its the truth and if you recant a truth it doesn’t mean a lie. The only truth is that person has no credibility and it cannot be admitted as evidence to convict because that creates a “reasonable doubt’.

  6. Im an idiot in believing that a killer of innocent people deserves more rights than the people he victimized. I am an idiot of not able to analyzed these event as nothing but propaganda because de lima is about to be hanged which she deserves and more. I am an idiot that in a crime ridden streets of the Manila, or Davao during the 80s and 90’s and up to present(wait, only Manila though because Davao can be very different than Manila when it comes to safety at present situation) that I am more concerned about the plight of criminals and their rights than their victims and I am an idiot that all these can be solved by novena, prayers and yes a mass offerings after I stole millions or billions and confess my sins or after the POUN goes to my cell ward (napoles) , thankfully. I am not a nincompoop. Sana tuloy tuloy na ang pag unlad ng Pilipinas at ang kabobohan at katangahan ay mawala na sa Pilipinas. Amen!

  7. Josefa Brombach on

    Do not forget that every people earn the government which endures it!
    Sophie Scholl (member of the restistance group “White Rose”, Germany)

    Do not be ashamed of saying it loud and clear: We have been wrong about Duterte!

    Jo Brombach, Germany

  8. DU30 has already admitted to these killings, so why the surprise here? The only surprise is why Filipinos are SO willing to be branded as complicit to murders by the world body. Everyone will believe Filipinos are willing to commit murder wherever they go to get what they want, just like their president.
    Careful Filipino people, you are in danger of competing with the likes of Don Trump and his lying, cheating and deceitful ways to get whatever he too wants, which is a fascist state.

  9. It looks like the Senate is not in the mood to hear the testimony of Lascanas, that is sad. But the people want to know, that is the job of the senate, to hear, what Lascanas has to say. and to reveal it to people, but not to discredit him, like what they did to Motabato, who has less in education, that is why, they easily manipulated, and discredited his testimony.. Gordon is obviously, having some inclination with the administration, that seems to enjoy their popularity due to related, deadly drug war, that is starting to decline in its popularity.

  10. I just can’t believe that a “MODERN DAY CAIN” (SPO 3 Arthur Lascanas) would allow his TWO BROTHERS to be KILLED because of his “so called loyalty” to an unrelated person (former Mayor RR Duterte) !!!

    How can we believe the statement of a person ( A MODERN DAY CAIN) who changed his testimony for the benefit of the Politicians who are out to destroy the President for their own Political ambitions ?

    Is it possible that those who are obsessed to put Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte down , used the “TOOL of THE DEVIL” to convince SPO3 Arthur Lascanas to recant his former testimony , clearing former Mayor RR Duterte then ?

    “LOVE OF MONEY IS THE SOURCE OF ALL EVIL” … so the HOLY BIBLE say.

    • Liars lie for convenience for himself, for others, or both. They lie to satisfy the person(s) they are lying for, then recant to please other persons not in accord with the first. It cannot be known outright which of the two instances is falsehood or truth.

  11. Perhaps if Pres. Duterte is pressed by media about this death squad and the killings, Duterte would say in his anger, “I admit that. I ordered them killed because they are SOB and they deserved to die, and they destroyed my beloved country.”