MANILA –The Senate panel inquiry into the testimony of retired SPO3 Arturo Lascañas, self-confessed head of the so-called vigilante group Davao Death Squad (DDS), has been set on Monday (March 6).
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs which will be conducting the hearing, said he will be inviting members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), particularly in Davao City, and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
The hearing into Lascañas’ new testimony was initially scheduled on Tuesday (March 7) but was moved to Monday. Lacson said that he and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV had a slight miscommunication on the schedule.
Last February 20, Trillanes brought Lascañas to the Senate to announce that he was retracting his first testimony in a Senate inquiry last October 2016 where he denied the existence of the death squad.
This time, Lascañas said that there was indeed a death squad that killed criminals and non-criminals in Davao City.
In his 12-page affidavit, Lascañas said that he was now ready to “tell the truth”.
It was self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato who first claimed that there was indeed a death squad. However, Lascañas rejected his claims noting that he feared for the safety of his family in Davao City.
“When I appeared before the Senate, I denied the accusations made by Edgar Matobato about the extrajudicial killings in Davao City and the Davao Death Squad. I was forced to deny what Matobato said, even if most of it was true, because I was afraid for the safety and security of my loved ones in Davao City,” Lascañas said in his affidavit.
Lacson said the inquiry will push through despite disapproval of some senators, particularly Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
Gordon said that it was “a slap in the face” to the Senate to allow Lascañas to testify after he had lied in a previous hearing into extrajudicial killings last October 2016.
Gordon’s committee report ruled out the existence of a death squad.