Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Monday said that the statement of retired policeman SPO3 Arthur Lascañas that President Rodrigo Duterte was behind the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) who was responsible for extrajudicial killings when he was still mayor of Davao City only seeks to divert public attention from the drug charges filed against Senator Leila De Lima.
Aguirre also said the move is also aimed at luring people to attend the commemmoration of the 31st anniversary of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.
”This is diversionary tactic to deflect the seriousness of the crimes committed by De Lima. This is calculated to orchestrate their call for warm bodies to attend the EDSA Anniversary,’ Aguirre said when sought for a comment.
De Lima is facing three counts of drug charges before the Muntinlupa City regional trial court (RTC) in connection to her alleged involvement in the proliferation of illegal drugs at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
”I do not know Lascañas. His testimony is a turnaround from his previous testimony at the Senate. He could be another (Edgar) Matobato as he was presented by Trillanes,” Aguirre said.
Contrary to his earlier statement, Lascañas said his conscience led him to allegedly tell the truth and back the claim of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato stating that the group was real.
In a Senate inquiry into extrajudicial killings held on Sept. 15, 2016, it was Matobato who allegedly claimed that the DDS was formed when Pres. Rodrigo Duterte was still Davao City Mayor.
Matobato earlier said the group was allegedly responsible for extrajudicial killings in Davao City from 1988 to 2013.