MANILA—Malacañang on Monday said that the disclosures made by a retired policeman are all part of a political drama aimed at ousting President Rodrigo Duterte.
“The demolition job against President Rodrigo Duterte continues,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said of the sudden turnaround of SPO3 Arthur Lascañas.
“The press conference of self-confessed hitman SPO3 Arthur Lascañas is part of a protracted political drama aimed to destroy the President and to topple his administration,” Andanar stressed.
Earlier Monday, the former Davao police officer allegedly tagged as the head of the so-called vigilante group Davao Death Squad (DDS) recanted his earlier testimony denying the existence of the group.
Lascañas said his conscience led him to allegedly tell the truth and back the claim of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato that the group was real.
However, Andanar said that the public is aware that the revelations are nothing but vicious politics being orchestrated by Duterte’s detractors.
“Our people are aware that this character assassination is nothing but vicious politics orchestrated by sectors affected by the reforms initiated by the Duterte administration,” the Palace official said.
Andanar also pointed out that “the Commission on Human Rights, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Senate Committee on Justice already cleared the President of extrajudicial killing and his involvement in the Davao Death Squad.”
Lascañas previously denied Matobato’s claim on the existence of the DDS.
In a Senate inquiry into extrajudicial killings held on Sept. 15, 2016, it was Matobato who allegedly claimed that the DDS was formed when Pres. Rodrigo Duterte was still Davao City Mayor.
Matobato said the group was allegedly responsible for killings of both criminals and non-criminals in Davao City from 1988 to 2013.
Over 10 policemen from Davao City, including Lascañas, however, debunked Matobato’s claim on the existence of DDS.
But, this time, Lascañas allegedly claimed that cops were paid PHP20,000 to PHP100,000 to proceed with the killings.
He also named several other cops who were members of the DDS and cited a series of killings they did including the killing of radio commentator Jun Pala and his own two brothers involved in illegal drug trade –Cecilio and Fernando Lascañas.
In the meantime, Andanar said the Duterte administration remains unfazed by Lascañas’ revelations.
“Bringing change is not an easy task. The Duterte administration has disturbed/disrupted the establishment. However, we remain undistracted in delivering goods and services to serve the people, not just the interest of the few,” Andanar said.