The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) fought back against the “unfounded claims” of The Manila Times columnist Rigoberto Tiglao, who called retired SPO3 Arturo Lascañas’ journal as “fake journal” and PCIJ’s story’s as “fake news.”
The media agency said that it stands by its story “Lascañas pens tell-all journal: Duterte rule a ‘Divine Trap,’ published on February 28, 2017.
The PCIJ contradicted Tiglao’s claim that Dean Jose Manuel Diokno, the chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and a PCIJ trustee since 2015, and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV were somehow involved with the writing of Lascañas’ journal or the PCIJ’s story about it.
How did PCIJ get their hands on the journal? They got a copy of it through people close to Lascañas, but verified the accuracy of its claims first by interviewing several PNP officers and agencies, people privy to the retired cop’s medical condition, and Lascañas’ himself before publishing it on February 27.
The PCIJ sought confirmation about Lascañas’ retirement benefits he obtained in December 2016, the people he named in his journal, what happened during his October 2016 testimony in the Senate, , and the court records and investigation reports into the DDS. They also went through the complete transcripts of self-confessed DDS hitman Edgar Senate testimony on September 15, 2016, Lascañas’ testimony on October 3, 2016, and his “public confession” on February 20, 2017.
PCIJ was able to verify that Lascañas has been inactive since 2015 with a “non-duty status, but officially retired only on December 16, 2016. His retirement benefits amounted to P3.1 million, a third of which he received last Christmas.
They also verified that he indeed worked as a “part-time bodyguard” of US Army Gen. (John K.) Singlaub with PFC Manuel Salvador and US Air Force Capt. Mike Timpani. These American soldiers were actually in the Philippines from 1986 to March 1987. Singlaub visited the country “as a private citizen” and worked with Timpani. He eventually started a private company in the Philippines.
PCIJ also checked the circumstances behind the death of two of Lascañas’ brothers, something that the retired cop regretted. Fernando, noted as an “ex-convict” in one local newspaper, was killed in an alleged shootout with policemen on September 26, 2013, while the other brother, Cecilio, had no published reports about his death.
As for Tiglao’s description about Lascañas’ journal having “flawless prose” and the retired cop’s inability to accomplish such, PCIJ pointed out that this is simply pure speculation on the part of the columnist. The media agency also noted how Lascañas has served as a police officer for 34 years and went to the University of Mindanao College of Law in Davao City from 1990 to 1995, although he did not finish his law degree.
This is also PCIJ’s short clip of their interview with Lascañas: