Lascañas leaves PH

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 09 April) —  Retired police officer Arturo Lascañas, a self-confessed leader of the Davao Death Squad (DDS), is now out of the country.

Lascañas left Saturday night for Singapore, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported Sunday.

ABS-CBN News on Sunday quoted Bureau of Immigration spokesperson Tonette Mangrobang as saying Lascañas left on board a Tiger Airways flight bound for Singapore.

Mangrobang said no hold departure order or lookout bulletin had been issued against Lascañas, hence he could leave.

Retired SPO3 Arturo Lascanas testifies before the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs on March 6, 2017 on the Davao Death Squad (DDS). On October 3 last year, he testified that the Davao Death Squad is only a “media hype” and that self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato who alleged that then mayor Rodrigo Duterte was behind the DDS, was a liar. Photo by Albert Calvelo / Senate of the Philippines

Lascañas is the first policeman to have testified on alleged police involvement in the killings as well as the alleged involvement of Rodrigo Duterte, seven-term mayor of this city and now President of the Philippines.

Duterte as mayor had repeatedly said there are no state-sanctioned killings in the city and as President has also repeatedly said there are no state-sanctioned killings in his war on drugs.

For at least two decades, the existence of the DDS and its alleged links with the police has repeatedly been denied by authorities until Lascañas made a public confession on February 20 that the DDS is real and not a “media hype” as he had earlier claimed in the Senate Committee hearing on extrajudicial killings in October last year.

Lascañas in his testimony under oath on October 3 vehemently denied the existence of the DDS, dismissing it as merely a “media hype” but in his February 20 public confession said, “totoo po ang existence ng Davao Death Squad o DDS. Si Edgar (Matobato, self-confessed DDS hitman who testified in the Senate in September-October)  po ay isa sa miyembro namin at isa po ako sa pasimuno nito” (The existence of the DDS is real. Edgar was a member and I was one of the leaders),  said Lascañas, who retired on December 16, 2016.

Lascañas denied Matobato’s claims in October but corroborated his testimony in February.

“Patutunayan ko na tototo ang sinabi ni Edgar Matobato” (I will prove that Edgar Matobato told the truth),  said Lascañas, who retired on December 16.

“Totoo po ang existence ng Davao Death Squad,” he said.

The Inquirer report, datelined Singapore, quoted Lascañas as saying he “received threats that a lawsuit would be filed against me, and there are also people looking for me as well,” prompting him to leave the country “for the time being.”

The Inquirer and ABS-CBN reports did not say if Singapore is Lascañas final destination or he is in Singapore en route to another country. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)