Vice President Leni Robredo called for a “thorough, independent, and credible” Senate investigation , following the testimony of retired police officer Arturo Lascanas on the existence and operations of the Davao Death Squad (DDS).
Robredo sought on Thursday, February 23, for a “full support and cooperation” of President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration.
“A thorough, independent, and credible investigation by the Senate into these charges must be promptly pursued, with the full support and cooperation of the President and his administration,” she said.
According to Robredo, the statement of Lascanas corroborated the testimony of Edgar Matobato, and these are matters of “great alarm and concern”.
“The imputation of such monstrous crimes to the President is unprecedented in its gravity, and can no longer be brushed aside by mere denials”.
Robredo said that the testimonies of Lascanas and Matobato against Duterte, required to be taken seriously and with careful consideration.
Furthermore, the vice president urged the public to remain vigilant “in the face of these alarming developments”.
“We must unequivocally demonstrate that we are still a nation governed by the rule of law and that we will exhaust all efforts to arrive at the truth.”
On Feb. 20, Lascanas attested to the existence of the DDS and even went further by saying that Duterte, who was then mayor of Davao City, paid the DDS P20,000 to P100,000 to kill criminals in the city.
Meanwhile, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano urged the Committee on Rules to study referral of Lascañas probe
Cayetano asserted that the Committee on Rules needs to further study the proposed reopening of the investigations on the DDS to look into the new statements of Lascañas.
During the plenary deliberations, the Senator manifested that the proper procedure is to give it back to the Committee on Justice and Human Rights since it handled the original investigation.
Cayetano stressed this, noting that the substance and topic of the investigation are the same. Senator Panfilo Lacson agreed with the observation of Cayetano.
“I’m not making a decision now but throwing it to the Committee,” Cayetano said.
“What I meant is that it seems obvious to me and I thought it was obvious to everyone that it’s the same. But we have to defer to each other and decide collectively… Let’s give it to the Committee on Rules to decide,” he added.
Cayetano cited that the accusations of Lascañas involve the alleged existence of the DDS, an issue that was already probed by the Justice Committee.
Cayetano backed Justice Committee Chair Sen. Richard Gordon’s refusal to reopen investigations into the testimonies of Lascañas.
Gordon delivered a privilege speech questioning why the Senate should still give the witness a second chance when he already testified under oath during the previous hearing but is now retracting his statements.
Cayetano lamented that the current situation is an insult to the committee system of the Senate, a disregard of the Rules of the Senate, and a disrespect to the institution’s current tradition.
“Alam natin na kapag sinabing reopen, ang committee na may original jurisdiction, ‘yun ang magre-reopen. That has been the Senate tradition. Never nating ginagawa sa Senado na alisin ang jurisdiction sa committee. And never natin pinagbobotohan ‘yun. Do we have to throw the rule book to the wastebasket?” Cayetano noted.
(When we say ‘reopen’, the committee that has original jurisdiction will reopen it. We never remove the jurisdiction from the committee, and we never voted for it.)