Retired SPO3 Lascanas: What he said before, what he now says

Compiled by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group

Posted at Feb 20 2017 09:46 PM | Updated as of Feb 20 2017 09:47 PM

Reitred SPO3 Arthur Lacanas answers questions during a press conference regarding his and President Duterte's alleged involvement in the Davao Death Squad, held at the Senate in Pasay City. Voltaire Domingo, NPPA

PROFILE

Name: Arturo Baririquit Lascañas
Birthdate: December 16, 1960
Age: 56
Date of retirement from service: December 16, 2016
Hometown: Davao City
Last assignment: Bunawan Police
Status prior to retirement: Non-duty status

In a press conference held Feb. 20, 2017, SPO3 Arturo Lascañas claimed that he was part of the Davao Death Squad (DDS) and that he was involved in several incidents of killings, including the raid that resulted in the killing of alleged drug lord Allan Tancho, the bombing of a mosque, the killing of a certain Mr. Patasaja and his family, the ambush and killing of broadcaster Jun Pala, and the deaths of his brothers--Cecilio and Fernando—who were allegedly involved in illegal drugs.

Lascañas also mentioned that Matobato was involved in the bombing of a mosque.

Meanwhile, in Matobato’s testimony at the Senate hearing on extra-judicial killing (EJK) in September and October 2016, he said that Lascañas was a member of the Davao Death Squad and that he served as the katiwala of then-Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. 

He mentioned Lascañas’ involvement in separate incidents of killings such as the mosque bombing, and the killings of Jun Barsabal; Salik Makdum; a dance instructor of Duterte’s sister Joceylyn; an alleged fixer of LTO; a nephew of Mayor Antalan who was allegedly involved in kidnapping. 

He said that Lascanas was also involved in the abduction and killing of then-House Speaker Prospero Nograles’ men, and the killing of seven alleged drug pushers and robbers. He also said Lascañas was also involved in the killing a group of two men and one woman for Paolo Duterte. 

Matobato further said that Lascañas was among those who tortured him to make him admit to the killing of Richard King. He added that Lascañas was the team leader of the group who carried out the killing of King. 

He also said Lascañas was also responsible for killing two of his men--Joel Tapales aka Turko and Pedro Andahas aka Loloy, who were involved in the murder of King, and of Wilbur Chua, who was believed to have heard conversations that may implicate them.

Prior to his appearance in the Feb. 20, 2017 press conference at the Senate, Lascañas testified on Oct. 3, 2016 before the joint hearing on extra-judicial killings of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs. The excerpts from the hearing transcript are summarized below: 

LASCANAS’ EARLIER TESTIMONY

Excerpts from the transcript of the October 3, 2016 Joint Hearing on Extra-Judicial Killings of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs:

ON THE DAVAO DEATH SQUAD

Responding to Senator Leila de Lima’s remark on the Davao Death Squad, Lascañas said that the DDS was just a term coined by the press.

SEN. DE LIMA. Okay. Siyempre po, katulad siguro ng iba na mga pinatawag namin ngayon, hindi niyo aaminin na mayroong Davao Death Squad.
MR. LASCAÑAS. Wala pong Davao Death Squad, Your Honor, media hype lang iyan.

Lascañas also said he never heard of the Lambada Boys, as well as the many personalities Matobato mentioned during the first two Senate hearings on the EJKs.

Lascañas said his group’s codename for then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was “CM,” which usually stands for “City Mayor” or sometimes, “Charlie Mike,” a military term for “continue mission.”

He denied that he ordered self-proclaimed Davao Death Squad hitman Edgar Matobato to carry out killings in Davao City.

SEN. DE LIMA. Hindi totoo na mayroong mga patayan sa Davao City?
MR. LASCAÑAS. Mayroong patayan po, pero iyong mga pinagsasabi po ni Mr. Edgar Matobato, especially linking my person, ay wala pong katotohanan iyan, Your Honor.
SEN. DE LIMA. Ano sa tingin mo ang dahilan bakit kayo ang palaging tinuturo ni Mr. Matobato na kilala pa niya, may mga pinangalanan po siya, at sa tingin ko po lahat ng mga pinangalanan na iyon, kung hindi po ako nagkakamali, ay aaminin na kilala nila si Mr. Matobato. So bakit po? Imbento po ito lahat?
MR. LASCAÑAS. Yes, Your Honor.

Lascañas also denied his alleged involvement in the following incidents, as mentioned by Matobato: the bombing of a mosque, the kidnapping of Sali Makdum, the murder of Richard King, the ambush of Jun Porras Pala, the killing of someone who was fed to the crocodiles.

BELYING MATOBATO’S CLAIMS

Matobato claimed in his sworn statements filed before the National Bureau of Investigation dated September 4, 2014 and June 4, 2015, that he was arbitrarily detained for one week sometime in June 2014 by Lascañas, along with members of Davao City police S/Supt. Vicente Danao, SPO1 Renato Medina, SPO2 Rizalino Aquino, and SPO2 Bienvenido Furog. Matobato was allegedly tortured during this period by Danao and Medina. 

However, during the hearing, Lascañas denied Matobato’s allegations that such incident transpired. He said only the second statement, filed a year after the alleged torture, was accompanied by a medical certificate to prove his claims.

MR. LASCAÑAS. Because of these documents, the September 4, it was almost three months from the alleged torture, there was no medical certificate but the other sworn statement almost a year of the alleged torture, there was a medical certificate. So, Your Honor, in my humble observation, the probability of this—that this September sworn statement of Mr. Edgar Matobato—was taken not in Metro Manila. And therefore, there could be a possibility that there was no torture at all.

Lascañas confirmed that he knew Matobato as a cousin of a policeman-friend. De Lima said that Matobato knew Lascañas so well, especially his December 16 birthday, because they used to celebrate it every year.

Lascañas said he knew Matobato as a former member of the Scout Rangers’ auxiliary group based in Malagos, Calinan. He said Matobato was known in Davao City as someone who walks around in full battle gear, in camouflage, and M-14 rifle.

Lascanas belied Matobato’s claim that he and SPO4 Sanson “Sonny” Buenaventura were like brothers to Duterte. Lascañas said that if he was really close to the mayor, his two brothers Cecilio and Fernando, who were involved in illegal drugs, wouldn’t have been killed.

He also belied Matobato’s claims that they’ve known each other for 23 years (1988 to 2013). He said it was sometime in 1996 when Matobato went to him to sell a property in Samal Island, when they became close.

MR. LASCAÑAS. Your Honor, sir, una po, ito pong sinabi niya, iyong open session dito sa Senate, personally sinabi niya na kasama ako sa torture which is hindi naman totoo. May point din na sinabi niya na nagsama kami for more than 23 years since 1988 up to 2013. Hindi po totoo iyon dahil iyong 1988 civilian pa po ako noon. Nag-AWOL po ako, na-reinstate ako 1989. Nakilala ko siyang lubos 1996 dahil dito sa dealing namin ng lupa. Nung napasok siya kay Mayor Antalan, matagal na po hindi ko siya nakita. Nakita ko lang iyan kung pumupunta sa akin, mag-deliver siya ng isda, mag-report siya kung magkano iyong kita ng niyog. Noong nabigay ko na sa kanya ang full authority, minsan na lang kami magkita. So, kaya po nasabi ko na sinungaling siya. Iyong sinabi niya for 23 years kami nagsama—1991 up to 1995, nabigyan po ako ng privilege ng task group commander namin, nag-enroll po ako, almost five years nasa College of Law po ako sa University of Mindanao. Ito pong katabi ko, kaklase ko ito. Kami ang magkasama. So nasabi ko sinungaling siya.

In 1998, Lascañas said he recommended Matobato to former Samal City Mayor Roger Antalan as escort. Matobato then served Antalan for three mayoral terms.