MANILA— Malacañang on Thursday confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte met with some senators this week but denied allegations that the meeting was meant to pressure the senators to stop a pending inquiry into the fresh accusations of retired SPO3 Arturo Lascañas.
Tuesday’s meeting between Duterte and the senators was confirmed by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella during a press briefing in Malacañang.
However, Abella stressed that the case of the retired police officer was not discussed.
“There is no truth to the allegation of Senator [Leila] De Lima that the senators were pressured by Malacañang with regards to the reopening of the investigation on the DDS (Davao Death Squad),” the Palace official said.
“As Senator [Vicente] Sotto said, the group of senators met with the President but they did not talk about the case of the retired police officer Lascañas,” Abella said.
Though Abella said he could not confirm who requested the meeting, the Palace official said that it was usually the guests who request an audience with the President.
The meeting occurred on the same day that senators, voting 10-8, decided to hear Lascañas testimony.
Last Monday, the former Davao police officer tagged as the head of the DDS recanted his earlier statements denying the existence of the group.
His retraction revived allegations that Duterte paid a “death squad” to kill crime suspects and political opponents when he was mayor of Davao City.
In the meantime, Abella said that Malacañang does not meddle with the Senate and senators can push through with their re-investigation of the DDS.
“They can proceed,” Abella said.