LASCANAS' TESTIMONY | 'Time for the public to assess if he's telling the truth'
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(UPDATED - 7:44 a.m.) MANILA, Philippines - This is the time for the public to evaluate the accuracy of Arturo Lascañas' claims that the dreaded Davao Death Squad (DDS) existed and that President Rodrigo Dutere, when he was still city mayor, allegedly masterminded the killings that were carried out by the vigilante group.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes said this on Monday, March 6, hours before the retired Davao senior police officer testifies before the Senate, repeats his February 20 public confession, and is grilled by lawmakers.
"Ito ang babantayan natin...i-observe. This is the time na makikilatis s'ya ng taumbayan...Marunong tayong magscrutinize, umusisa. Mararamdaman natin kung sinsero at nagsasabi ba ng totoo itong si Lascañas," Trillanes said during an interview with dzMM radio.
[This is what we should watch for and observe. This is the time that the public can evaluate him...We know how to scrutinize, how to inquire. We will be able to determine whether Lascañas is sincere and is telling the truth.]
"Kung papaniwalaan natin na s'ya ang pumatay, papaniwalaan din natin na si Duterte ang nagpapatay [If we would believe that he was the one who did the killings, we should also believe that it was Duterte who had ordered the killings]," the senator added.
Trillanes said that during the Senate hearing, Lascañas, who claimed to be a former DDS leader and was allegedly close to Duterte, would be expected to tell more details about his earlier confession and his handwritten journal -- some 70 pages in yellow paper, telling all he allegedly knew about the vigilante group, his role in the killings, and the President's purported link to the DDS.
Lascañas also has a video detailing what happened in the DDS operations.
"When we saw each other last January, he requested na i-video ang lahat ng nangyari [When we saw each other last January, he requested to have everything that happened put on video]," said Trillanes.
The senator said he met Lascañas after a priest introduced the retired police officer to him on January 21 or 22.
"Noong panahon na 'yon, di ako makapaniwala na babaliktad si Lascañas...Siga ito...Dumaan sa vetting process, until ready na s'ya...for public confession [At that time, I could not believe that he would make a turnaround...He was a bully...He underwent a vetting process until he was ready for his public confession]," said Trillanes.
The senator said Lascañas' family knew that the former police officer would reveal what he knew about the DDS and Duterte and that Lascañas was ready to face the legal consequences of his disclosures.
"Alam ng pamilya n'ya ang gagawin n'ya. Hindi rin s'ya mabubuhay ng mapayapa kung di n'ya ito gagawin...Handa s'yang makasuhan [His family knew what he would do. He won't be able to live peacefully if he would not do this...He's ready to be sued]."
'Not a credible witness'
Malacanang is questioning Lascañas' credibility as the former police officer had earlier denied knowledge about the DDS. Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said that with Lascañas as witness, the Senate would just be wasting time in its investigations.
"A witness, to be credible, must be credible by himself and his testimony must also be credible, and on both counts, he fails," Panelo said in an earlier media interview.
"He claims the president ordered him to kill. He claims he talked to the President about it. He claims he received money," he said.
"How can a President who is a lawyer do that? He is a lawyer. He commits a crime and then he shares it? It’s against human nature, against common sense, and there’s no logic in it," added Panelo.