MANILA - Arturo Lascañas, a self-tagged leader of the alleged Davao Death Squad, claimed Monday that presidential son and Davao Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte once intervened in an operation to entrap a man suspected of smuggling drugs into the country.
During a Senate inquiry into the DDS, Lascañas said the incident started when Duterte, who was his brother in the Freemasons, asked for his help with the delayed arrival of a container van of furniture and personal effects he imported from China sometime between late 2013 and early 2014.
Duterte allegedly told Lascañas that the van also contained the belongings of a certain Charlie Tan.
Lascañas said Duterte later suspected that Tan placed drugs in the container van.
"Noong na-delay na ito nang husto, mayroon siyang sinabi sa akin na 100 percent siyang binalahan ni Charlie Tan ng illegal drugs, particularly shabu ang kanyang van," Lascañas told senators.
(When the shipment was delayed, he told me that he was 100 percent certain that Charlie Tan planted illegal drugs, particularly shabu, in his van.)
He said Duterte instructed him to tail the van when it arrives, deliver it to the village hall of Barangay Catalunan Grande, and arrest Tan if the shipment yields drugs.
Lascañas said he tailed the van when it arrived in Davao City, but Duterte allegedly called him en route, saying: "Arbor ko na lang, bro. Ako na ang bahala kay Charlie." (Leave it to me. I'll take care of Charlie.)
Lascañas said although he never knew if drugs were found in the van, he was disappointed that Duterte intervened with the operation to entrap Tan.
He said his loyalty to the vice mayor's father, then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, pushed him to authorize the killing of his 2 brothers, who were involved in the narcotics trade.
"Siguro kung inarbor ko rin ang mga kapatid ko, baka buhay pa ngayon, nakakulong lang," he said.
"Hindi ko man nakitang may laman ang van, pero sabihin na lang nating walang laman, masama pa rin ang loob ko. Pwede pa lang mamili, samantalang ako, nakalubog ang 2 paa ko sa impyerno dahil sa pag-impose ko sa campaign ni Mayor Rody sa illegal drugs."
(Maybe if I also intervened for my brothers, they will still be alive, albeit behind bars. I may not have seen drugs inside the van, let's say there was none, but I am still hurt. It appears there is an option on who could be saved while part of me is already in hell because of how I imposed Mayor Rody's campaign against illegal drugs.)
Lascañas said he never spoke with the younger Duterte after the incident involving Tan.
The younger Duterte earlier denied that he had any hand in the killing of billionaire Richard King in 2014, as claimed by self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato.