MANILA—Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Tuesday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a probe on the testimonies made by retired policeman and whistleblower Arthur B. Lascañas who left the country for Singapore last April 8.
Aguirre’s pronouncement came a day after Senator Panfilo Lacson said Lascañas might be charged with perjury when Congress resumes its session on May 2.
He ordered the NBI to probe the crimes confessed by Lascañas when he retracted his earlier testimony and linked President Rodrigo Duterte to the killings perpetrated by the so-called Davao Death Squad when he was still the Davao mayor.
“Actually, I already directed the NBI to investigate the confessions of Lascanas,” Aguirre told reporters during the press conference at the sideline of the signing of the agreement between the DOJ and the US Embassy to combat child trafficking held at DoJ office in Manila.
Aguirre earlier said that the retired policeman could be held liable for perjury over his recantation.
Aguirre also suggested that investigators should look into who is funding Lascañas, who left the country last April 8 reportedly for “fear of lawsuits.”
“We could investigate who’s behind him but we should get help from others, especially Senator (Panfilo) Lacson who’s an expert in gathering information like that. The DOJ principally receives complaints so if ever there is a complaint about harboring of criminals, then the DOJ is the one to act,” he explained.
“The handlers of Lascañas are just scared because they could lose their remaining witness, who has no credibility at all,” he added.
Aguirre said if Lascanas does not return to the country by April 22 as he manifested and if cases are filed against him, then they could run after his protectors since harboring criminals would be a criminal offense.
“Let us see then if he would return,’ he added.
It will be recalled that Lascanas in the March 6 hearing accused Duterte of paying DDS members up to P100, 000 to kill criminals as well as his enemies when he was still the Davao mayor.
Lascañas also implicated presidential son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, in the killings.
The Bureau of Immigration has confirmed that Lascanas left the country Saturday afternoon for Singapore.
BI spokesperson Antonette Mangrobang said the retired police officer left the country on board a Tiger Airways flight to Singapore and that he presented to immigration officers a plane ticket which indicated April 22 as his return date to Manila.
Mangrobang said Lascanas was allowed to board his plane since there was no look-out bulletin or hold departure order against him that could have delayed or prevented his departure.
”Under the law there is no justification not to allow her to depart in the same way there is no case against Lascanas so we would not hold him to depart,” he explained.