MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday gave a blanket denial to all the claims of self-confessed Davao Death Squad (DDS) hitman Arturo Lascañas.
“They are all lies. Why should I respond to lies?” Duterte told reporters in an ambush interview in Malacañang.
Lascañas, a retired Davao policeman, claimed that the DDS carried out killings on orders of Duterte, who served as mayor of Davao City for more than two decades.
He also said that aside from killing petty criminals and drug traffickers, the group also went after some of Duterte’s political enemies.
In October 2016, Lascañas denied in a Senate hearing the existence of the DDS, calling the group a myth created by the media.
However, Lascañas recanted his denial and admitted last month that the DDS indeed exists. Despite questions on his credibility because of his recantation, a Senate panel headed by Senator Panfilo Lacson decided to investigate his claims.
Lacson’s panel, however, on Tuesday decided to terminate the probe after only one hearing. Duterte's allies in the Senate cited Lascañas’ supposed lack of credibility.
During Monday's Senate hearing, Lascañas claimed he killed around 200 people as a member of the hit squad.
He also claimed that Duterte paid for his kidney transplant.
Asked to react to this claim, Duterte said: “I don’t know. But we have a Lingap sa Mahirap sa Davao."