MANILA - A retired cop who was earlier tagged by a Senate resource person as the team leader of the Davao Death Squad admitted Monday the existence of the group, saying former mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the killings.
SPO3 Arthur Lascañas said he was paid P20,00 to P100,000 for every killing carried out by the group.
"Kadalasan P20,000, minsan P50,000 depende sa status ng target...P 100,000," he said.
"Ito po ang umpisa, sa lahat ng ginagawa naming pagpatay sa Davao City, ilibing man o itapon sa laot, ito po ay binabayaran kami ni Mayor Rody Duterte," he said.
Lascañas's new claims were contrary to his statements at a Senate hearing in October, where he said DDS was only hyped up by the media.
Self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato had tagged Lascañas, who then denied the existence of the death squad and called Matobato a liar.
Matobato earlier described Lascañas as Duterte’s “right-hand man,” and that he was Lascañas' closest aide.
ROOTS OF 'DAVAO DEATH SQUAD'
He said the group got its name after a drug raid in the house of a certain Allan Tancho where they killed Tancho's maid.
He said the DDS left a note that said: "Wag pamarisan - Davao Death Squad."
Lascañas also claimed Duterte ordered the bombing of a mosque in Camamara Wa-An Davao City.
Lascañas also accused Duterte of hiring people to kill Jun Pala, a Davao journalist widely known for his work on exposing corruption of local politicians.
"Isa po ako a gi-hire ni Mayor through SPO4 Sonny Buenaventura, yung kanyang trusted aide and driver, gi-hire ako ni Sonny na halaga na P3-million," he said.
"Dahil sabi ni Sonny galit na galit si Mayor Rody kay Jun Pala dahil sa palagi nitong atake araw-araw sa radio," he adeded.
Lascañas said he told a SPO1 Jim Tan, who he claims has a lot of "players" or hitmen for hire, about Buenaventura's offer was P2-million, and Tan agreed, giving them P500,000 as "operational fund."
"Sa madaling sabi po, kami ang nag-plano para i-assassinate si Jun Poras Pala. Gumawa kami ng pag-ambush kay Jun Pala two times. Two times din siyang nakaligtas," he said.
This then was when Tan used his "players."
After a few months, Lascañas said, they lied low and then he met with Duterte in one time, where the chief executive said he should take time in neutralizing the journalist.
"May isa pong mall sa Davao na nag-kape ako, at doon po sa third floor, nakita ko si Mayor na naglalakad, walang security. Nilapitan ko siya, at ang bulong niya sa akin, sa bisaya: [Kamusta ang] pag-ambush niyo kay Jun Pala?," he said.
"Ang sabi ko sa kaniya I’m sorry sir. Ang sagot niya sa akin, take time; ayaw pagdali," he added.
Lascañas also said because of his "blind loyalty and obedience" to Duterte, he was instrumental in the killing of his brothers who were involved in drugs.
"Dito po nakagawa ako ng lethal judgment call that led to the untimely death of my two brothers. Sila po ay involved sa illegal drugs," he said.
"Napakasakit ng ginawa kong desisyon. Wala pong nakaka-alam nito kundi ako lang. Ayokong malaman nila na isa ako sa instrumento sa pagkamatay ng dalawa kong kapatid, si Cecilio at si Fernando," he said.
Lascañas is the second person to claim about the existence of the Davao Death Squad. The DDS is widely believed as being behind the killings of a number of people in Davao City.
Witness and self-confessed hit man Edgar Matobato earlier claimed they killed people on Duterte’s orders, including Jun Pala, a broadcaster and critic of the then mayor of Davao City.
He also said the DDS was responsible for the bombing of a Muslim mosque after the Davao Cathedral was bombed in 1993.
Duterte has denied any involvement in the DDS, saying it was used as an opposition tool to try to derail his presidential bid.