MANILA— A Senate panel report has disproved the existence of state-sponsored killings and Davao Death Squad (DDS) vigilante group.
Released last May 17, Senator Panfilo Lacson presented to the plenary on Monday the joint report of the Senate Committees on Justice and Human Rights; and Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, showing that “there is no proof that there is state-sponsored policy to commit killings to eradicate illegal drugs in the country” and “there is no sufficient evidence to prove that a Davao Death Squad exists.”
The committees, chaired by Senators Richard Gordon and Lacson, respectively, conducted the inquiry last March on the existence of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS).
It pointed out that the testimonies of both retired cop Arturo Lascañas and self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato were “weak” and “did not pass the scrutiny of the respective Committees they were presented.”
“The lack of credibility of both witnesses results in the lack of evidentiary value of their testimonies. Aside from the extrajudicial confession, no other piece of evidence was presented to prove the alleged conspiracy. Therefore, their confession has no probative value,” the report said.
Moreover, it said that the alleged conspiracy among DDS members was not properly established by independent evidence nor was it shown that the Lascañas’ statements were made while they were engaged in carrying out the conspiracy.
“…The statements were made after the conspiracy has ended and after the consummation of the crime. They were not acts or declarations made during the conspiracy’s existence,” it further said.
The report also recommended the amendment of the Revised Penal Code to increase the penalty for the crime of perjury, and amendment of the Rules of the Senate to punish witnesses who give inconsistent testimonies in a Senate inquiry.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a staunch critic of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, however, disagreed with the committee report saying Lascañas’ testimony corroborated with Matobato’s testimony.
Last December, the two committees conducted six legislative inquiries and also reported there is no proof that a Davao Death Squad exists.