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Bato chooses to keep mum on Lascanas' claim PNP chief knew DDS operations

InterAksyon file photo of PNP chief Gen. Ronald dela Rosa
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine National Police chief Gen. Ronald dela Rosa has chosen to keep mum on the testimony of Arturo Lascañas that he knew about the operations of the vigilante group Davao Death Squad (DDS), which the retired senior police officer claimed was organized by President Rodrigo Duterte when he was city mayor. 

"Paubaya natin sa Senado dahil on-going ang investigation...No comment muna ako 'dyan, intayin na lang natin [Let the Senate take care of the matter because there's an on-going investigation...I will not yet comment on that, let's just wait]," Dela Rosa told reporters on Tuesday, adding that he would be ready to testify in case the Senate asks him to attend a hearing to help shed light on the issue. 

On Monday, March 6, Lascañas testified before the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs that it was Dela Rosa who had allegedly told him that some operations carried out by the DDS had something to do with competitions in the drug trade, which made the retired police officer realize that he and other DDS members were being used by drug lords as their "foot soldiers." 

He 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 a Taiwanese man, who was killed by the DDS.

According to the retired police officer, the Taiwanese was supposed to settle a problem with alleged drug trader Charlie Tan, allegedly a friend of presidential son and Davao Vice Mayor Mayor Paolo Duterte

Lascañas said that he had told Dela Rosa that 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. 

Also, during Monday's hearing, the retired police officer testified that Dela Rosa, when he was still superintendent, allegedly knew about two other operations of the DDS. 

Lascañas claimed that he had communicated with Dela Rosa during the kidnapping and slay of Sali Makdum and the police operation against Felicisimo Cunanan Jr., said to be the most wanted criminal in Davao del Sur. 

He said that Dela Rosa allegedly got mad at DDS member Edgar Matobato after Makdum's wife filed a complaint with the now-disbanded Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force and claimed that a ransom was asked for the release of Makdum, a suspected foreign terrorist who was apprehended on Samal Island. 

Lascañas said he defended Matobato and told Dela Rosa that it wasn't Edgar but his group that asked ransom from Makdum's wife. He said Dela Rosa wanted Matobato captured but Lascañas suggested that a case should just instead be filed against Matobato. 

In Cunanan's case, Lascañas said Dela Rosa had ordered him to deft Duterte's alleged to kill Cunanan's two companions. 

Lascañas claimed that Duterte gave the order after the then mayor visited Cunanan’s companions at the office of the Heinous Crime division of the local police.

The retired police officer said that before Duterte left, he gave the instructions to have the two killed. Dela Rosa then allegedly accompanied Duterte to his car, and upon his return he told Lascañas not to carry out Duterte’s order.

Huwag mong ituloy dahil kawawa ‘yan [Don't push through with it, I pity them],” Dela Rosa allegedly told Lascañas.

 Lascañas said Dela Rosa further told him, “Ako na ang bahala. File-an mo lang ng kaso 'yong isa kasi may baril. ‘Yong driver i-release mo [Let me take care of that. Just file a case against the one with a gun. Release the driver]."