Davao Death Squad probe revives interest in Laud Quarry

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 06 2017 03:01 PM | Updated as of Mar 07 2017 04:24 AM

BONES STILL THERE: Did the Davao Death Squad dump their victims in a quarry owned by a retired Davao cop? A Senate investigation on alleged DDS killings on Monday revived interest in the Laud Quarry after a retired cop claimed he can show where the remains of DDS victims are buried there. 

Self-confessed hitman retired SPO3 Arthur Lascañas said the bones of alleged DDS victims were removed from the quarry a week prior to the 2009 visit of then en-Commission on Human Rights chair and now Senator Leila de Lima.

Lascañas said he was informed that the bones were exhumed and dumped in a lake near the quarry.

"Binigyan kami ni mayor, particularly si SPO4 Ben Laud, ng pera para kung pwede eh mahukay yung nandoon," Lascañas said.

(Mayor, particularly SPO4 Ben Laud gave us money to dig up there.)

Lascañas, however, told Senator Grace Poe that the remains of the Patajasa family are still in the cave and claimed that he can point where exactly they are buried.

Asked on the number of victims buried in the quarry, Lascañas said he estimates about 100.

"Baka merong 100, kasi halos lahat naman hinahatid doon dahil bawat hatid doon may bayad eh," he said.

(Maybe around 100 because everyone is brought there. Every trip there has a payment.)

During the hearing, Poe questioned why the Philippine National Police did not implement a Supreme Court decision granting a search warrant to uncover the bones of 6 victims allegedly buried in the Laud Quarry in 2005. 

"Yung Supreme Court ruling sinasabi nang pwedeng puntahan ito pero bakit di pa rin napupuntahan?” Poe said.

(The Supreme Court ruling said it can be visited but why hasn’t it been visited?)

Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) lawyer Arno Sanidad said the search warrant was questioned by the quarry's owner, former policeman Bienvenido Laud. He also noted that Laud's lawyer at the time was Vitaliano Aguirre II, now the Department of Justice secretary.

Sanidad added that the quarry is no longer under the name of Laud and that the property has already been divided.

Police Chief Supt. Augusto Marquez Jr., the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management head, admitted that they have not returned to the quarry following the SC decision.

“We have on file, Ma’am, several investigation reports which we received from PRO11 and now with the national headquarters… We checked the record ma’am but as far as we know wala po kaming investigation,” he told Poe.

The Commission on Human Rights also admitted that they have not visited the quarry since the release of the SC decision. Commissioner Roberto Eugenio Cadiz noted that they will try to make arrangements for a visit to the quarry soon.

'ONLY ANIMAL BONES'

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II insisted only animal bones were found in a quarry owned by a Davao cop, which allegedly contained the remains of various victims of the Davao Death Squad. 

Speaking to reporters, Aguirre confirmed that he was the lawyer of SPO4 (Ret.) Bienvenido Laud alias "Tatay Laud," owner of the Laud firing range and quarry in Purok 3, Barangay Ma-a, Davao City.

He said the Commission on Human Rights and the Department of Justice failed to prove that the bodies of Davao Death Squad victims were buried in the quarry. 

"As a matter of fact, lumalabas nga dun buto ng animals hindi ng tao ang nahukay dun," he said. 

Aguirre's statement runs counter to the claims of witnesses of the Commission on Human Rights who said many DDS victims had been killed and buried there. 

In his statement to the Supreme Court, Edgar Avasola said he had helped bury DDS victims at the Laud compound. Avasola, in his statement submitted to the Supreme Court, had also said that during a visit in 2009 a CHR team led by then CHR chairwoman Leila de Lima found bones at the site. With a report by PCIJ