Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday (March 6) drew attention to the inconsistencies in the affidavit of retired policeman and alleged Davao Death Squad (DDS) member Arthur Lascañas, expressing further doubt over his credibility as a witness.
During the Senate inquiry into accusations of extrajudicial killings against the President, Cayetano asked Lascañas to clarify inconsistencies in his affidavit and statement regarding the formation of a Davao task force in 1988 and the killing of former constabulary soldier Jun Bersabal.
The senator criticized Lascañas for making the statements based solely on his own assumptions.
He first pointed out the establishment of an Anti-Crime Task Force in 1988. According to Lascañas’ testimony, the group was originally formed to target drug personalities and other criminals in Davao. Soon after, then Mayor Duterte would order the group to go after his personal enemies, he said.
Cayetano questioned how the witness could have known about the group’s operations in 1988 when, in fact, he was not even on duty as a police officer during that year. He was only reinstated in 1989.
“Are you telling half-truths or whole truths? [In your affidavit,] may conflict kaagad. Sabi niyo, 1988 binuo ang liquidation squad. Pero 1989 pa kayo nakabalik ng serbisyo, so hindi niyo alam ang nangyari sa task force na ito noong 1988,” he stressed.
“Ang affidavit niyo po ay hindi galing sa personal knowledge niyo… How can you say there was a liquidation squad if you weren’t a part of it,” he added.
Lascañas in response said his statement regarding the earlier operations of the group was based on his own assumptions.
“Assumption is not personal knowledge. It is not even hearsay,” Cayetano intoned.
The senator further noted another discrepancy in the witness’ testimony regarding the murder of Jun Bersabal, a former Philippine Constabulary member allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.
In his affidavit, Lascañas narrated that they were ordered to arrest and murder Bersabal in 1993. The former constabulary soldier, however, was killed in 1997.
“Bakit sa affidavit niyo, 1993 ang nilagay niyo? Paragraph 41, ‘in or about 1993 I was instructed by Mayor Duterte to capture Jun Bersabal.’ Hindi naman natin pwedeng sabihin na clerical [error] kapag ganito,” Cayetano said.
The senator surmised that the reason behind the inconsistencies of Lascañas’ statements was because he was being coached by some personalities who could be plotting to oust the President.
“In your case ho ba, Sir, may nag-coach din po ba sa inyo,” he asked Lascañas.