Senate inquiry into alleged extrajudicial killings to resume on Monday

MANILA — The Senate inquiry into the purported extrajudicial killings, which will be attended by alleged members of the so-called vigilante group Davao Death Squad (DDS), will resume on Monday.

To recall, the inquiry was initially scheduled to resume last week, but the DDS members were not informed, Senator Panfilo Lacson, Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, said.

Witness and alleged former DDS hitman Edgar Matobato earlier claimed that some members of the Davao City police force were part of the vigilante group.

Lacson, in a radio interview, said that Senator Richard Gordon, Chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, expects the inquiry to be finished by Oct. 5.

He noted that while the committee will decide if the inquiry should be conducted in an executive session or public hearing, the DDS witnesses will be asked which option they would prefer.

“We will first ask them which option they prefer; then we as a committee will decide if they ought to be given the inquiry they select,” Lacson said in Filipino.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald Dela Rosa earlier said that his men were ready to face the Senate in any type of inquiry because they have “nothing to hide.”

Among the alleged DDS members Matobato previously mentioned were SPO4 Arthur Lascañas whom he described as the right-hand man of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Matobato also said that Lascañas was the “most powerful” police officer in the city that “even generals took orders from him.”

Lacson said that although the conclusion of the hearings seems vague until now, it will all be done only in aid of legislation.

“In the first place, if we proved that there were EJKs during the time of then Mayor Duterte, what can we do about it?” Lacson said.

“We cannot file a suit against the President because he has immunity. I don’t know, we will have to debate about it,” he added. Azer Parrocha/