Four CHR witnesses gave affidavits affirming Lascañas’ DDS confession

Before retired SPO3 Arturo Lascañas admitted to being involved in the Davao Death Squad (DDS) and confessed to have performed some of the killings ordered by then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) revealed that four other individuals gave sworn affidavits affirming Lascañas’ statements in 2009.
It was in early 2009 when three of the witnesses gave their sworn affidavits to the Commission on Human Rights lawyer Jacqueline Ann C. de Guia. The fourth witness gave their statement in July 2009 before Judge William Simon Peralta of the Manila RTC for a case filed by the PNP when they tried to gain access to a suspected disposal site of DDS victims.

The PCIJ noted that Lascañas’ affidavit, along with the other four before his, showed “interlocking details” describing the DDS’ composition and the role of the police in the death squad. The investigative media agency also said that all five details present common details, as well as complementary ones, when it came to issues about the DDS hierarchy, the killing method, and the price list of each hit, which ranged from P13,000 to P15,000.

Lascañas was also named in two of the affidavits as one of the Davao cops involved with the DDS.

The retired cop first denied his involvement with the death squad, but he reversed his statement four months later. He confessed to participating in certain murders and would execute an affidavit giving more details about the DDS – information that he would discuss during the Senate hearing and an interview with PCIJ.

Lascañas said that he decided to make a public confession about the DDS due to “spiritual enlightenment” and his conscience, while the other four witnesses said that they just wanted to reveal the truth.
However, only Lascañas and another witness, a ‘Crispin Salazar,’ who connected Duterte to the DDS in their sworn affidavits.

In Salazar’s statement, he said: “Ipinakilala ako ni Councilor Ibuyan kay Mayor Duterte. Tinanong ako ni Mayor ‘kaya mo ba ganitong trabaho? Ang patayin ang salot sa lipunan tulad ng mga drug addict, pusher at magnanakaw?’ Sabi ko, papatulan ko.’ Sinabi niya na babayaran niya ako ng P15,000 at pinabalik ako ng Lunes at binigay niya personal sa akin ang isang baril. Isa yon na .357.”

He added that a week into his job, he was given a list of people that he and the other DDS members would kill. In some cases, Duterte would even personally visit the safe house and hand out the list to them.

In his affidavit, Lascañas said: “I was present when then MAYOR RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE of Davao City ordered the killing of numerous men and women, and gave us reward money after we executed them. I was responsible for the killing of many men and women, and at least one child, upon the instructions of MAYOR DUTERTE.”

De Guia, now the current CHR spokesperson, explained to the PCIJ that three of the witnesses – Salazar, ‘Jose Basilio,’ and ‘Ramon Evangelista’ – were allowed to use pseudonyms for their security and used their right thumbmark on their affidavits instead of signatures.

De Guia told PCIJ that she believed the three witnesses’ statements during her interview.

CHR launched its investigation into the DDS in 2009 under now Senator Leila De Lima and continued into 2012 under former CHR chairwoman Loretta Ann Rosales, but nothing much has been added to it since.

Here are the affidavits of the other four CHR witnesses, as published by PCIJ.







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