Senators support probe into Lascanas' claims

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 21 2017 03:04 PM

It's not a waste of time, says Pangilinan

MANILA – Senators are supporting an investigation into the recantation of retired SPO3 Arturo Lascañas, who has claimed to have killed people on orders of longtime Davao City Mayor and now-President Rodrigo Duterte.

Lascañas said in a Senate hearing last year that the allegation of self-confessed Davao Death Squad (DDS) hitman Edgard Matobato on the DDS was not true. He, however, made a sudden U-turn when he said yesterday that the DDS indeed exists.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who along with veteran human rights lawyers presented Lascañas, had moved that Senator Panfilo Lacson’s committee on public order and dangerous drugs conduct a probe into Lascañas’ testimony.

Lacson has reportedly expressed willingness to conduct the probe, even as Senator Richard Gordon, the chairman of the committee on justice and human rights which handled the previous hearing, rejected the possibility of reopening his committee’s probe just to accommodate Lascañas’ recantation.

According to Senator Francis Pangilinan, Trillanes' motion on Lascanas' confession has been referred to Lacson’s committee.

“The reason why it was referred to the public order committee is because it has jurisdiction over police matters and all these acts alleged by Lascañas happened when he was an active member of the PNP [Philippine National Police], so it was referred last night and we disagreed that this is a waste of time for the Senate. You know, if we were lied to, we'd like to know,” Pangilinan told ANC.

Senator Grace Poe said, she supports the opening of a new probe so that senators will have the chance to test Lascañas’ credibility.

"Bigyan natin siya ng pagkakataon mag-eksplika, hindi naman nangangahulugan na totoo ang sinasabi na niya agad, kaya nga gusto natin malaman," Poe said.

"Sinasabing nabayaran ba siya? Tinakot ba siya? Siya ba ay nakonsensya? Gusto natin isipin na ang bawat tao na lalabas dito sa Senado ay may tamang hangarin na sabihin ang katotohanan. Tingnan natin kung totoo ba yung sinasabi niya kasi kung totoo yun ay hindi natin dapat palampasin ito.”

Senator Bam Aquino, meanwhile, said the Senate must be allowed to push through with the probe to demonstrate the upper chamber’s independence and impartiality.

"Kailangan ipakita ng Senado na impartial kami, independent, transparent ang proseso at payagan na matuloy ang hearing. From there, we can see kung totoo ang sinasabi ni Lascañas,” he said.

Aquino, however, said perjury charges should be filed against Lascañas for retracting his statements made under oath before the Senate late last year.

“Binaligtad mo, you are liable for perjury. Pero palagay ko ngayon that's the least of his concerns kasi umaamin siya sa murder at sa mas mabibigat na bagay," Aquino said.