MANILA, May 25 (Mabuhay) — Senator Leila de Lima on Wednesday said that her colleagues in the Senate have “feigned disbelief” over the testimony of retired Davao City cop Arturo Lascañas.
This came after the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs chaired by Senator Panfilo Lacson released Committee Report No. 97 on May 17, two months after Lascañas made a complete turnaround from an earlier testimony, saying he was “forced” to lie about the Davao killings then.
“The testimonies of both Matobato and Lascañas are considered weak and did not pass the scrutiny of the respective committees they were presented. The lack of credibility of both witnesses results in the lack of evidentiary value of their testimonies,” the report said referring to another confessed hitman, Edgar Matobato, who earlier testified before the Senate justice committee.
“Aside from the extrajudicial confession, no other piece of evidence was presented to prove the alleged conspiracy. Therefore, their confession has no probative value,” it added.
De Lima, for her part, said that it was “unfortunate” that the Senate committee has considered Lascañas’ testimony as not credible, “inspite of the fact that it corroborates the previous allegations of Edgar Matobato.”
“Some of my colleagues previously scoffed at Matobato and his story for allegedly being incredible and wanting in corroboration. Now that another conscience-stricken DDS (Davao Death Squad) insider, in the person of Lascañas, has joined Matobato in doing a most perilous act of publicly confessing their participation in a criminal enterprise called DDS, again, my colleagues, with due respect to them, have feigned disbelief,” De Lima wrote in a handwritten statement from her detention facility in Camp Crame.
Moreover, the committee report according to De Lima have attempted to discredit Lascañas’ testimony through “presenting evidence of negative official records and applying the presumption of regularity of official acts.”
“However, it is not the correct way to approach it as there is nothing official in the operations of the Davao Death Squad. It is precisely because the DDS operated outside the bounds of justice system that their activities are considered criminal,” De Lima said. “Their targets were simply identified by [President Rodrigo] Duterte under the pretense of administering justice and they executed them without even looking into their boss’s allegations.”
Lascañas earlier made a public confession, alleging that Duterte was responsible for several killings in Davao City during his term as mayor.
He claimed to be a “major player” of the DDS, members of which supposedly got payment of up to P100,000 per target killed.
However, the committee report said that Lascañas’ testimony is “flooded with loopholes and uncertainty on material facts.”
“Apart from the lack of corroborating evidence, his testimony was easily negated and destroyed by established facts, legal presumptions and resolutions of government agencies concerned,” it said.
Meanwhile, De Lima alleged that allies of Duterte in the Senate are “bent on discrediting them even before they fully presented their case.”
“They presented Matobato and Lascañas with an impossible task of convincing a panel committed to misunderstanding them simply because they are accusing the President,” she said.
“Mahirap ho talagang gisingin ang mga taong nagtutulug-tulugan lamang,” de Lima added. (MNS)