WATCH | Lascanas: Drug lords used Duterte hit squad
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(UPDATE 17 - 9:57 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines - Clean-shaven, resigned to his fate, and looking calm despite grilling by lawmakers, Arturo Lascañas on Monday testified before the Senate, reiterating with more details his public confession about the existence of the Davao Death Squad and how President Rodrigo Duterte, when he was still city mayor, allegedly ordered the DDS to carry out violent killings of his enemies and suspected criminals, including 11 Chinese nationals and a Taiwanese man, which also victimized innocent people.
Earlier this month, the President denied that he had ordered the killing of specific persons during his two-decade reign in Davao. “I never mentioned any particular name nor attributed any activity to anyone."
For the first time on Monday, the retired Davao senior police officer, who confessed to killing about 200 people including nine Chinese citizens while he was among the leaders of the DDS mostly upon the alleged orders of Duterte, also linked the President's eldest child, Davao Vice Mayor Paulo "Pulong Duterte, to a purported narcotics dealer, whom the younger Duterte allegedly protected.
Lascañas likewise claimed that he had realized that he and other DDS members were being used as the "foot soldiers of drug lords" after he learned from his alleged meeting with Philippine National Police Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa about DDS killings that had something to do with competitions in the drug trade.
Lascañas' testimony about Dela Rosa indicated that the PNP chief also knew about the operations of the DDS. Dela Rosa earlier denied that he personally knew Lascañas.
Earlier, there were just allegations that the DDS, which was founded by Duterte according to Lascañas, was behind the killings of suspected drug criminals. It was only during Monday's testimony that Lascañas claimed that the DDS was also involved in the alleged killing of competitors of drug lords, indicating that the hit squad was also protecting the interest of narco traders from that of their business rivals.
"Tingin ko po nagiging foot soldiers kami ng ibang drug lord," said Lascañas during his testimony before the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
Asked by Sen. Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara if he thought that there were protected drug lords in Davao or in the Philippines, Lascañas said that he could only cite the case of a certain Charlie Tan, who got off the hook after he was allegedly protected by Paolo, and what De La Rosa purportedly told him about competitors in the drug trade.
Ex-cop claims Paolo protected alleged shabu dealer
Lascañas said that in late 2013 or 2014 the younger Duterte, whom he said was his Freemasonry fraternity brother, asked the police officer to help him secure his container van containing pieces of furniture that Pulong had ordered from China.
Lascañas claimed that Paolo sought his assistance because the shipment had been delayed for three to four months.
The retired police officer also said that Paolo allegedly told him about his friend Charlie Tan, who bought souvenirs from China and that Tan's goods would be included in Pulong's 40-foot container.
Later on, when the shipment of the van was further delayed, Lascañas said that he was purportedly told by Paolo that drugs were placed inside his van and that when the shipment arrives in Davao and it's opened and it would be found out that the shipment indeed contained drugs, Lascañas should arrest Tan.
"Noong nadelay na ito ng husto, meron s'yang sinabi sa akin, na 100 percent s'ya, binalahan ni Charlie Tan ng illegal drugs, particularly shabu, ang kanyang van," said Lascañas.
"Ang sabi n'ya sa akin, pag dumating ang van sa Davao, eskortan mo ang van, ipadeliver natin doon sa isang barangay, sa kanyang barangay sa Catalunan Grande, at pag-open nito, kung may laman ito, hulihin mo si Charlie Tan," he said.
After several months, the shipment finally arrived in Davao and Lascañas said he and his companions, as allegedly instructed by Pulong, escorted the van. But before the shipment arrived in Catalunan, Grande, where the younger Duterte resided and was barangay captain from 2007 to 2013, Pulong allegedly called him up on the phone and told him to no longer pursue Tan.
"Tapos after several months, dumating ang van. Sinundan namin...pero bago ako dumating sa basketball court sa Catalunan, tinawagan ako ni Pulong...Sabi n'ya sa akin, 'Arbor ko na lang ni, bro. Ako na ang bahala kay Charlie," said Lascañas.
[After several months, the van arrived. We followed it but before I reached the basketball court in Catalunan, Pulong called me up on the phone and said, 'Brother, let me take care of Charlie.']
"Dito nagkaroon ako ng maraming iniisip. Siguro kung hindi ako gumawa ng isang maling judgement ko sa mga kapatid ko, kung inarbor ko na lang din ang mga kapatid ko, baka buhay pa ngayon, nakakulong lang," added the retired police officer, referring to his brothers Cecilio and Fernando, alleged drug users, whom he ordered killed by the DDS.
[That was the time that I thought of many things. Maybe if I didn't make one wrong judgement against my siblings, if I had just asked that I'd be the one responsible for them, maybe they are still alive now and are just imprisoned.]
"Hindi ko man nakita na may laman ang van, pero sabihin na lang natin, walang laman, masama pa rin ang loob ko. P'wede palang mamili, samantalang ako, nakalubog ang dalawang paa ko sa impyerno dahil sa pag-impose ko sa campaign ni Mayor Rody against illegal drugs," said Lascañas.
[Even though I didn't see the contents of the van, let's just say that it did not contain drugs, I still felt bad. I realized that while my feet were immersed in hell because I imposed Mayor Rody's campaign against illegal drugs, having a choice was allowed.]
"Simula noon, hindi na ko nakipagcommunicate kay Vice Mayor Pulong [From then on, I no longer communicated with Vice Mayor Pulong]," he added.
Asked during the hearing who Tan was, Lascañas said he did not know him personally but he heard that he was involved in illegal drugs.
“Si Charlie Tan ay Taiwanese national at may-ari ng KTV. Wala akong alam sa kanya. Sa usap-usapan involved kuno sa illegal drugs,” said Lascañas.
Asked again during the hearing by Angara about Tan's alleged links to illegal drugs, the retired police officer said, "Sa circle po ng mga operatives, lumalabas ho ang pangalan n'ya."
Matobato's claim vs Paolo
In September last year, self-confessed killer and DDS member Edgar Matobato claimed that Paolo was using illegal drugs, particularly shabu and that he was allegedly friends with Chinese drug traders in Davao City.
“As far as I know there are Chinese drug lords (in Davao City) who are friends of Paolo Duterte… They would go drinking together, we’d see them sometimes. I don’t know their names, but they were always together in bars,” Matobato said during his testimony before the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights last year.
In Novemberlast year, the camp of Paolo Duterte announced that the vice mayor tested negative for illegal drug use.
Results of the test showed President Rodrigo Duterte's son to be clean of amphetamine, methampethamines, cocaine/metabolites, opiates, extended opiates, phencyclidine, THC metabolite, and benzodiazepines.
Paolo said Matobato’s “imputations that I was a drug addict were based entirely on a fabricated story by a man whose imagination is as twisted as the senator's," referring to Sen. Antonio Trillanes, who challenged the vice mayor to undergo drug tests.
"The results of the comprehensive drug test is enough vindication for me as I was vilified and slandered as they apparently attempted to destroy my father and the entire Duterte family,” added Paolo.
'Bato told me about elimination of competitors'
In another incident involving the kiling of a Taiwanese citizen upon the orders of "Superman," allegedly the codename of Duterte, Lascañas during his testimony on Monday said that he and Dela Rosa, when the latter was still police superintendent, met somewhere in Buhangin, Davao City where the latter asked him about the case of the Taiwanese.
According to the retired police officer, the Taiwanese man was supposed to settle a problem with Charlie Tan -- the alleged drug trader who was allegedly protected by Paolo. But Lascañas said the Taiwanese was ordered killed and buried at a quarry site in Davao along with two Filipinos, one whose wife was a lady lawyer, the other an engineer, who were just "collateral damage."
"At tinanong n'ya sa akin (Dela Rosa) kung ano ang findings namin kung nagawa kami ng investigation doon sa Taiwanese. Ang sabi ko sa kanya, walang nakuhang drugs. Ang pagkaka-alam namin, may i-settle s'ya na problema with Charlie Tan kaya lang may dalawang na-collateral damage," said the retired police officer.
From his dicussions with Dela Rosa, Lascañas alleged that he had learned that the killing of the Taiwanese national had something to do with the elimination of drug competitors.
"Ang comment ni Bato sa akin, 'Parang elimination of competitors,'" he said.
"Ang sa isip-isip ko...lingid sa akin, nagiging foot soldiers pala kami ng mga drug lord [I thought that without my knowledge, we were being used as foot soldiers of drug lords]" said Lascañas.
At the beginning of Monday's hearing, Lacson advised Lascañas to reinforce his testimony by producing other pieces of evidence and collaborative witnesses. Otherwise, the retired police offcers' testimony would be futile.
“Ang maipapayo ko lamang kay SPO3 Lascañas, kung ang layunin ng iyong extra-judicial confession ay mapanagot sa ilalim ng batas si Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte at iba pang personalidad, marapat lamang na maliban sa iyong salaysay, may maipakita ka pang...ibang ebidensya,” Lacson said.
“Kung wala ay maaring masayang lamang ang oras ng mga tao dito dahil baka walang kahihinathan ang isinasagawa nating pagdinig sa araw na ito laban sa sinumang mga taong idinadawit mo,” the senator added.
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