Senate summons Lascañas to Davao Death Squad probe
MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – After much debate, the Senate has summoned retired Senior Police Officer 3 (SPO3) Arturo "Arthur" Lascañas to attend the investigation into the Davao Death Squad (DDS), following his murder allegations against President Rodrigo Duterte.
Rappler obtained a copy of the "notice of public inquiry and investigation" dated Monday, February 27.
The Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, chaired by Senator Panfilo Lacson, originally set the hearing on Tuesday, March 7.
But on Tuesday, February 28, Lacson said he reset it to Monday, March 6, after Senator Richard Gordon scheduled the resumption of the Bureau of Immigration bribery hearing on the 7th.
"The committee on public order and dangerous drugs is inviting you to a public inquiry and investigation on the privilege speech of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, regarding the public confession of SPO3 Arthur Lascañas on the alleged existence of the Davao Death Squad," the document addressed to the retired cop said.
Lascañas, said to be one of the policemen closest to then Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte, first testified before the Senate in October 2016 to debunk the existence of the DDS.
But 4 months after, on February 20, he made a public confession to corroborate earlier claims by whistle-blower Edgar Matobato that Duterte headed the DDS. (READ: Edgar Matobato: Liar or truth-teller?)
Trillanes, in a privilege speech, referred Lascañas' testimony to Lacson's committee on public order and dangerous drugs, rather than the committee on justice and human rights chaired by Senator Richard Gordon.
Duterte's allies scrambled to block the inquiry into Lascañas' testimony. Gordon also delivered a privilege speech slamming the former cop's flip-flopping.
Despite this, the chamber, with a vote of 10 senators, decided to reopen the investigation, a move that surprised administration senators.
But Trillanes said on Monday that until the hearing has actually started, there is still no assurance the investigation would prosper, hinting at external pressure on his colleagues.
Duterte himself admitted on Monday that he knows Lascañas. "As a policeman, yes. I saw him once, twice a year," the President told reporters. – Rappler.com