MANILA- Retired SPO3 Arturo “Arthur” Lascañas had a more credible testimony last year before he flip-flopped and claimed involvement in the alleged Davao Death Squad (DDS), according to a Senate committee report.
The May 17 report of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs described Lascañas’ testimony as weak, noting that the Davao cop’s mere retraction of his earlier statements cannot vitiate his original testimony.
“Comparing Lascañas testimony then and now, it appears that he was a credible witness back then when he refuted the allegations of Edgar Matobato,” the report said.
“His current testimony is flooded with loopholes and uncertainty on material facts,” it added.
The committee, chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, also said the testimony of Edgar Matobato lacked credibility.
“The testimonies of both Matobato and Lascañas are considered weak and did not pass the scrutiny of the respective committees they were presented. The lack of credibility of both witnesses results in the lack of evidentiary value of their testimonies,” the report said.
Lascañas last year refuted the confession of self-confessed hitman Matobato on the existence of the DDS, which allegedly perpetrated killings in Davao City under the orders of then-Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
However, earlier this year, Lascañas flip-flopped on his earlier claims and tagged Duterte in the killings and admitting to be part of the activities of the alleged DDS as well.
Lascañas last month flew to Singapore and has not returned since.
“Aside from the extrajudicial confession, no other piece of evidence was presented to prove the alleged conspiracy. Therefore, their confession has no probative value,” the report said.
The report said Lascañas’ testimony was “easily negated and destroyed by established facts, legal presumptions and resolutions of government agencies concerned.”
The report took note of Lascañas’ claims on the killing of radio broadcaster Jun Pala and said it would be a “dangerous precedent” to “impute a crime on another individual on the basis of motive.”
Lascañas previously claimed that Duterte paid him P3 million to kill Pala, who was a vocal critic of the then-Davao mayor.
The committee recommended the increase in penalty for the crime of perjury, and the amendment of the Rules of the Senate to penalize witnesses who give varying testimonies in an inquiry.
“This inquiry only highlights the fact that there are individuals who have the audacity to spread falsity before this august body that obtains its power from the highest law of the land,” the report said.
“These untruthful statements, given under oath before a Senate Committee, undermine Congress' Constitutionally-granted authority to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation. These attempts to impede the Legislative branch from performing its Constitutional function must therefore be punished accordingly,” it added.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, meanwhile, disagreed with the conclusion of the report, noting that the investigation was abruptly terminated after only one hearing.
“I disagree with the conclusions made by Senator Lacson in his committee report. He has no basis to say that Lascanas' testimony was not credible because he abruptly terminated the investigation after only one hearing,” Trillanes said in a statement Monday.
“In fact, during the solitary hearing Lacson conducted, the PNP representative even corroborated some of Lascanas' statements,” he added.