MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to coordinate with the International Police Organization (Interpol) to track down and arrest retired cop Arturo Lascañas.
Aguirre gave the order to NBI chief Dante Gierran in a memorandum dated June 8 but released to the media only on Tuesday, June 13.
“In the interest of the service and pursuant to the provisions of existing laws, you are hereby directed to coordinate with the International Police Organization (Interpol) to gather information on the location and whereabouts of Arturo Lascañas and to coordinate with the proper authorities for his apprehension,” he said in his memo.
Aguirre gave the directive after Regional Trial Court Branch 10 in Davao City ordered the arrest of Lascañas for murder and two counts of frustrated murder in connection with the incident that led to the death of radio broadcaster Jun Pala in 2003.
The charges stemmed from the retired Davao cop’s testimony before a Senate inquiry in March, where he alleged that President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Pala’s slay. He corroborated the earlier testimony of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato before a Senate inquiry in September 2016. (READ: Ex-Davao policeman tags Duterte in death squad, murder)
Lascañas had told a Senate panel that when Duterte was Davao mayor, he ordered the Davao Death Squad to kill crime suspects and his personal foes. (READ: From DDS ‘denier’ to whistle-blower: Why Lascañas changed his tune)
Lascañas, who served in the Davao City Police Office practically his entire career, retired from the police force in December 2016. (READ: SPO3 Lascañas: Blind obedience ends now)
He left the country in April, fearing for his personal safety following his revelations against Duterte. (READ: LIST: Lascañas’ involvement in killings allegedly ordered by Duterte)
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV alleged that Aguirre’s order was “proof” that Lascañas told the “truth” about Duterte. He said the administration was trying to silence Lascañas, just as it had attempted to do with Matobato. (READ: The Senate scramble that led to the Lascañas probe)
“Ito ay maliwanag na panggigipit sa mga magtetestigo laban kay Duterte. Inuna na nila inipit si Matobato, ngayon naman ay si Lascañas. Kaya patunay rin ito na nagsasabi ng totoo silang dalawa,” Trillanes said in a statement.
(This is clear harassment against those who testify against Duterte. They put a tight squeeze on Matobato first, and now it’s Lascañas’ turn. So this is also proof that the two are telling truth.) – Rappler.com