Lascañas testimony ‘far from truth’ — Pimentel

MANILA — The testimony of retired SPO3 Arthur Lascañas claiming the existence of a so-called Davao Death Squad is far from the truth, Senate Pres. Aquilino Pimentel III said Monday.

Lascañas, in a press conference in the Senate, claimed that there was indeed a group hired to kill criminals and non-criminals in Davao City.

His new testimony backs the testimony of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato who was first to claim the existence of the vigilante group.

Pimentel, however, said that Lascañas’ claims will remain claims unless backed by evidence.

“You can really say very explosive things pero that should be tested through cross examinations, background checks (but that should be tested through cross examinations, background checks),” Pimentel told reporters.

Pimentel, an ally and party mate of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, said that just because Lascañas’ testimony was “explosive” did not mean that it was true.

“…Just because very explosive ang sinabi, tandaan mo sinabi lang yun. Malayo pa yun sa katotohanan, hindi po pruweba yun because may nagsalita (Just because what he said was explosive, remember that’s just what he said. It’s far from the truth, it’s not enough proof that he spoke out),” he added.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, also an ally of Pres. Duterte urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to file perjury charges against Lascañas for recanting his earlier testimony in a Senate hearing last year.

Gatchalian said Lascañas has “made a mockery of the solemn proceedings of the Senate” by admitting to lying under oath before the Senate Justice Committee during the October 2016 hearings.

He also said that he found Lascañas’ claims “hard to believe” considering that he was “singing a completely different tune just a few months ago.”

The neophyte senator said that unless Lascañas can provide actual concrete evidence, he would “not rely too much on this retired cop’s tall tales.”

Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and Risa Hontiveros, however, urged the Senate to provide a necessary venue for Lascañas to divulge “everything he knew” about the death squad.