MANILA – The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Wednesday called for an investigation into the death of a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The NUJP made the call following the admission of retired SPO3 Arthur Lascañas, a self-confessed member of the Davao Death Squad, that the group killed hard-hitting Duterte critic Jun Pala on orders of the longtime Davao City mayor.
“The recent revelation of SPO3 Arthur Lascanas that the murder of Davao broadcaster Jun Pala was allegedly ordered by now President Rodrigo Duterte deserves serious investigation,” the NUJP said in a statement.
Lascañas’ admission is a recantation of his earlier statement in a Senate hearing that the existence of the DDS is only a product of a media hype. This also backs the claim of another self-confessed DDS hitman Edgar Matobato that Duterte ordered Pala’s killing.
“If Duterte did order Pala’s murder, then he should be tried and convicted for it, no ands, ifs, or buts,” the NUJP said.
“But whether he ordered the hit or not, what matters is that there are now two potential witnesses whose accounts may finally lay bare the truth behind Pala’s death and, at the very least, help temper the culture of impunity that continues to wreak havoc on countless lives, due process and the rule of law.”
In a Senate hearing in September 2016, Matobato said it was Duterte who ordered Pala killed in 2003, contrary to reports that the New People’s Army was behind it.
“Parang binabakbakan siya sa radio araw-araw. Kasali ako doon sa operation pero hindi ako umabot sa operation. Sa plano na lang ako,” Matobato told a Senate hearing.
(Pala was hitting Duterte everyday. I was part of the operation to kill Pala but I did not make it. I became part of the planning stage.)
“Pinalabas din na NPA. Paano papasok ang NPA at mang-aambush sa sentro ng Davao eh ang daming pulis? Kasi kontrolado ang NPA doon sa Davao. Kasi kaibigan yun ni Mayor Duterte, ang NPA.”
(It was made to appear that the NPA was behind the killing. How could it be when the ambush was carried at the heart of Davao City where there were so many policemen? Duterte controls the NPA in Davao.)
According to Matobato, the group which killed Pala was composed of rebel returnees, a certain SPO2 Jun Ayao and SPO3 Jun Laresma.
Duterte once described Pala as a “rotten son of a b****.” He said the commentator was killed for being corrupt.