Lacson to Lascañas: Confession not enough proof vs Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – Provide other evidence to pin down President Rodrigo Duterte.

Senate public order committee chair Panfilo Lacson said the confession of retired SPO3 Arturo Lascañas is not enough proof against then mayor Duterte’s role in the killings in Davao City. (LIVE: SENATE HEARING ON EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS, 06 MARCH 2017)

“Kung ang layunin ng iyong “extrajudicial confession” ay mapanagot sa ilalim ng batas si Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte at iba pang personalidad, marapat lamang na maliban sa iyong salaysay, may maipakita ka pang bukod at ibang ebidensya,” Lacson advised Lascañas during the resumption of the Davao Death Squad probe on Monday, March 6. 

“Kung wala ay maaring masayang lamang ang oras ng mga tao dito dahil baka walang kahihinatnan ang isinasagawa nating pagdinig sa araw na ito laban sa sinumang mga taong idinadawit mo,” he added. (Without other evidence, you might end up wasting the time of other people, and the hearing we're holding today where you are implicating other people may end up being of no consequence.)

Lascañas earlier denied being part of the DDS but changed his tune 4 months later on February 20.

The Senate resumed on Monday its investigation of the DDS killings in the wake of Lascañas February 21 public confession.

Citing the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Harold Tamargo vs Romulo Awingan, Lacson said that before a conspirator’s testimony is deemed useful, there should be other evidence to prove it and that the testimony should be made while the conspirator was engaged in carrying out the conspiracy.

The senator also cited the High Court’s 2011 ruling on People of the Philippines vs Felipe Mirandilla Jr.

“Jurisprudence is consistent that for testimonial evidence to be believed, it must not only come from a credible witness but must be credible in itself tested by human experience, observation, common knowledge and accepted conduct that has evolved through the years.”

Lascañas’ testimony, the senator said, failed to comply with these requirements.

Probe just for 'media mileage'

In his opening speech, Lacson declared how he has grown “averse” to flip-flopping statements, saying witnesses against him in the past repeatedly changed their testimonies.

“As chairman of the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs – I would like to state here and now, and this is my personal sentiment – that I have grown averse to flip-flopping statements made under oath, probably because of similar incidents in the past directly and indirectly affecting my person,” he said.

“Thus, characters like Ador Mawanay, Udong Mahusay, Cesar Mancao, to name a few, who changed their sworn statements as if they were changing their socks from white to black, or vice-versa may have influenced my natural aversion to self-contradictions,” the senator added. The senator was referring to witnesses lined up against him under the government of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III also said he would raise the “probative value” of Lascañas’ testimony before the committee, saying the investigation is just for show.

“Pang media mileage na lang ito. Ang tingin ko walang probative value kaming makikita rito. Eh siguro [for] entertainment value, lalo na sa mga anti-Duterte,” Sotto told reporters before the hearing.

To prove his point, Sotto said the High Court frowns upon "recantation."

“Mula noong 2013 hanggang ngayon, very consistent ang Supreme Court sa issue of recantation. The Supreme Court looks with disfavor when it comes to recantation sapagkat naiintindihan ko. Ang mangyayari kasi doon [ay] maglalakas loob magsinungaling yung iba eh kasi babawiin ko naman yun later,” Sotto said.

The retired policeman, however, claimed he was only ordered by SP04 Sonny Buenaventura, a longtime aide of the President, to lie before the Senate committee on justice in October 2016 and to deny all allegations of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato. (READ: Which information from Matobato does Lascañas corroborate?)  – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.

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