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Despite blind loyalty, Lascañas fails to get post-retirement projects from Duterte govt – JV

The online news portal of TV5

MANILA – Despite his blind loyalty to then-Mayor Rodrigo Duterte that led him to kill many people as member of a supposed Davao Death Squad, it appears retired SPO3 Arturo Lascañas failed to get juicy projects from the current administration - a point some senators hinted could be basis for a grudge, and account for his turnaround.

In the continuation of public hearings on the alleged existence of a Davao Death Squad (DDS), Sen. JV Ejercito said Lascañas failed to get approval for the franchise of Small Town Lottery (STL) in juicy areas in Luzon; and a transport terminal, quarrying supply for coastal road project and license for customs brokerage, in Davao City.

“It appears Mr. Chairman, hindi strike 3 kundi strike 4, within that period after his retirement . . . Alam mo SPO3 Lascanas, lahat ng magreretiro na mga pulis, kasama po kayo dyan na inisip ang kinabukasan. Hindi naman masama 'yung paghahangad kayo. But it appears  . . . naka-strike four kayo: kumbaga, walang natuloy, nabokya [You did not just get hit by strike 3, but strike 4 after you retired. You know that all retiring cops think of their future. That's not bad. But it appears you got strike 4. In short, none of your projects got through],” Ejercito said.

Lascañas confirmed Ejercito’s narration about the projects but denied he is financially involved in those projects. He said he was simply used by some barangay chairmen in Davao City, since he has no capital for the planned enterprises, but could wield some influence.

“Your honor, hindi po ako naghangad; ako ang nilapitan wala naman akong capital [sir, I didn't desire the money; I'm always the one approached; I don't have the capital] ,” Lascanas said.

Lascañas said his appearance in the Senate in October, denying the allegations of confessed hitman Edgar Matobato on the existence of a DDS, bolstered his “face value” which could be used to influence the government.

Lascañas pointed out his limited influence was tapped by fellow retirees in getting a franchise for STL, a transport terminal and customs brokerage in Davao City. They talked with various officials including Transportation Secretary Arturo Tugade.

“As I was exposed in the Senate investigation, they deemed me successful in lying for them; it appeared that I'm really a loyal man of the Mayor (Duterte), I sensed they wanted to use me to [wield] influence but that didn't work with Chairman Corpuz,” Lascañas said partly in Filipino, referring to the STL franchise for which they approached Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Chairman Jose Corpuz.

“I myself did not apply for a franchise; I was just listening, but Capitan (Baquerin) was asking me to be there. In fact, Attorney - the secretary of Baste, Atty Lumbatan, was present. But the only ones who discussed with Chairman Corpuz was Lumbatan. Baste didn't say anything to persuade him,” Lascañas recalled of that meeting.

Apparently, he explained, Baste was just used to try and influence people. . Okey sana si Chairman Corpuz, may tinatawag silang term doon - ibigay ang Visayas and Mindanao, pero ang gusto ng grupo ni Chairman dito sa Laguna, Cavite and Batangas,” he added.

“Sa pagkakarinig ko, hindi pumayag si Chairman (Corpuz),” he said.

Lascañas identified those members of the Davao Group as a certain Romeo Maquerel, Barangay Captain Baquerin and Bantayan, who are operating last-two digits gambling in Davao City.

He said Baquerin gave him P100,000 last December.

Lascañas answered in the affirmative to Ejercito’s questions of whether they formed the group after his retirement in November to expand their illegal gambling operations in Luzon.

“Totoo po 'yon your Honor. Before ako nag-resign, after ako mag-testify dito sa Senate, I retired in November, kundi ako nagkakamali, inimbitahan ako ni Barangay Captain Baquerin na mag-ano kami dito sa Manila may ipinakilala ako sa kanya na gustong mag-finance ng STL, then magpatulong kung makakakuha ng prangkisa, siguro mga five days ako dito, sama sama ako sa kanila,” Lascañas said.

Lascañas also admitted before the panel that he “threatened” the son of PCSO chairman Corpuz, who was the latter’s executive assistant, should they fail to get the STL franchise.

“Pagkatapos ng meeting kasama ba doon ang anak ni Chairman Corpuz na si Migz Corpuz, na noong hindi inaprubahan ang iyuong prangkisa sa iyong grupo, may sinabi ka daw kay Migz Corpuz?” Ejercito asked Lascanas.

That is true, your honor, Lascañas said in Filipino.

“Ganito po ang takbo ng istorya, 'yung anak ni Chairman Corpuz, na-threaten ng malalaking financier dito sa Luzon, and then sinabi ni Capitan Baquiren na threat lang pala upang ma-okeyan ang mga prangkisa,” he said.

“Then sinabi ko, eh di i-threat na rin natin ang tatay mo upang ma-okeyan ang prangkisa ni Kapitan. Iyon po ang totoo,” Lascanas said.

Lascanas said he did not continue in getting a license for customs brokerage due to the issue of rice smuggling that arose then.

Despite these incidents, Lascañas insisted he bore Duterte no resentment.

He also denied talking to a group of foreigners after his testimony in October last year.

Ejercito moved to have the Lacson panel summon the Bureau of Immigration regarding the alleged flight of Lascañas's family abroad; and Corpuz, to shed light on the veracity of Lascañas testimony.