DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Retired policeman and self-confessed “Davao Death Squad” member Arturo Lascañas faced the members of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs in an attempt to pin down anew President Rodrigo Duterte in Davao Death Squad.
In a six-hour hearing, Lascañas recounted how at the behest of a few personalities, including Duterte’s younger son, Paolo “Pulong” Duterte, retired police officer Sonny Buenaventura, and PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, and himself had killed some 200 people during his tenure as a police officer in Davao City.
This was the second time that Lascanas attended the Senate hearing on the DDS probe, the last was in October 2016 where he denied the existence of DDS.
Lascañas was also grilled by the Senators regarding his recanted statements. When asked why he suddenly recanted, Lascañas said he went through a “spiritual awakening” and he only lied the first time because he was afraid for the safety of his family.
But Senator Panfilo Lacson at the start of the hearing said that he had an “aversion of flip flopping statements” due to personal experiences.
“As chairman of the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs – I would like to state here and now, and this is my personal sentiment – that I have grown averse to flip-flopping statements made under oath, probably because of similar incidents in the past directly and indirectly affecting my person,” Lacson said.
Lacson also called out how Lascañas said he saw the family of Mr. Patasaha die in an earlier press conference, after the latter said he had only heard the suppressed gunshots, and the wailing of Patasaha’s wife after her young son died first.
“Alin ang totoo sa dalawa (Which is true among your two statements)?” Lacson asked.
Lascañas responded that he only heard the gunshots, but considered having witnessed it.
Lacson also questioned Lascañas’ reasons for reversing his statements. Lascañas responded that he feared for his family and his own life. Lacson however, proceeded to ask what had changed since four months ago, citing the fact that President Duterte was still the president.
Lascañas responded that he only wanted to get out the whole truth and wanted to clear his conscience.
Senator Manny Pacquiao echoed Lacson’s sentiments, suggesting that Lascañas had been paid to recant his statements.
Pacquiao also doubted Lascañas’ claims of spiritual renewal, as it came before he appeared four months ago in the Senate-led probe on extrajudicial killings.
After six hours, Lacson moved to close the probe, saying he no longer saw any “probative value,” and said it was up to the Committee on Human Rights, and the Philippine National Police to decide what to do with the findings of the hearing.
In his narrative, Lascañas said he was then the most junior in the group composed of nine other individuals, including Buenaventura. He also recalled that in their inner circle, the president’s nickname was “Superman.” He said they were the first members of the vigilante group.
Lascañas said the DDS was born when they attacked the house of a certain Allan Tancio in Bacaca, wherein they used as assaulting group the Rebel Returnees Association of Agdao.
The first casualty of the DDS, Lascañas said, was the house helper of Tancio. He said they did not recover anything from the operation.
Lascañas went on to narrate the “prominent” operations that he joined in such as the bombing of the Mosques in Davao, which he alleged Duterte had ordered in retaliation of the San Pedro Cathedral bombing of 1993.
“Pumunta si mayor sa opisina namin and then doon nag utos na bombahin ang mga muslim mosques within the [area of responsibility] of Davao City, pag ganti po sa pag bomba ng San Pedro Cathedral” (The mayor went to out office and instructed us to bomb the Muslim mosques within the area of responsibility of Davao City, as a response to the bombing of the San Pedro Cathedral), Lascañas said.
Lascañas also mentioned the details of the kidnapping incident in 1996 wherein he, along with other members of the DCPO who were also members of the DDS, massacred the family of the alleged mastermind, a certain Mr. Patahasa.
Lascañas said the Patahasa, along with his pregnant wife, 4-year old son, septuagenarian father-in-law, and two helpers were massacred in the Laud quarry here. He also said he had protested, but in the end, the massacre occurred through the use of a suppressed .22 caliber pistol.
Lascañas also implicated presidential son and Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo “Pulong” Duterte, whom he said was his “brother” in the Freemasonry.
“Nagpatulong siya ng kanyang container van galing China. Bumili siya ng kanyang mga personal effects kagaya ng mga furniture dahil gamitin niya sa kanyang, inauguration ng kanyang bagong bahay… ay nadelay. Nagpahanap siya sa akin ng broker, may ni-rekomenda akong broker,” he said.
(He asked me to help with his container van from China which got delayed. He bought personal effects like furniture to use for the inauguration of his new house. He asked me to find him a broker, I recommended him one.)
Lascañas also confessed to participate in the murder of broadcaster Jun Pala. Lascañas said he accepted the contract for P2 million where Pala survived twice. Lascañas, however, finally succeeded to kill Pala through a certain Jerry Trocio, Pala’s bodyguard.(davaotoday.com)