DDS leader got 'regular allowance' before turning against Duterte - lawyer

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 22 2017 08:47 AM | Updated as of Feb 22 2017 11:32 AM

SPO3 Arthur Lacanas, self-confessed member of the DDS, turns emotional after baring allegations about the death squad during a press conference at the Philippine Senate on Monday. Voltaire Domingo, NPPA

MANILA - Retired SPO3 Arturo Lascañas received a regular "allowance" from a public office up until he admitted to leading the Davao Death Squad (DDS) and contradicted his earlier Senate testimony denying the group's existence, his lawyer said Wednesday.

"Noong panahon na nagtestify siya noong una, parang takot siya para sa kanyang pamilya. At that time tumatanggap pa siya ng allowance galing sa ewan ko kung Davao City mismo o kay Pangulo," Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) lawyer Alex Padilla told radio DZMM.

(When he first testified, he feared for his family. At that time, he was still receiving an allowance, whether it's from the Davao City government or the President, I don't know.)

Lascañas told senators back in October that the DDS was "nothing but media hype," contrary to the claim of professed hitman Edgar Matobato, who said Duterte ordered the group to assassinate crime suspects and political opponents.

But on Monday, Lascañas backtracked and alleged that Duterte funded the purported band of mercenaries during his 22-year rule as Davao City mayor.

Before his confession, Lascañas stopped accepting his alleged allowance, Padilla said.

The lawyer also said his client is aware that his about-face could be grounds for perjury and murder charges, but he pushed through with the exposé in a bid to clear his conscience, not to push any political agenda.

"Hindi kami bahagi ng anumang grupo. Wala kaming kausap na mga partidong pulitikal. Hindi ko po alam kung anong mararating nito. Basta sabi lang ni Lascañas, gusto niyang magkaroon ng public confession," Padilla said.

(We are not part of any group, we have not talked to any political party. I don't know where his confession will take us, but Lascañas said he only wants to make a public confession.)

He also denied any connection between the retired cop and another client, Senator Leila De Lima, who initiated the Senate inquiry where Lascañas and Matobato gave contradicting statements on the DDS.

"Wala pong koneksyon iyung dalawa. Sa totoo lang, noong isang araw, hindi nga alam ni Senator De Lima iyung tungkol dito kay Lascañas," he said.

(The two have no connection. In truth, Senator De Lima did not even know about Lascañas 2 days ago.)

A new Senate inquiry is set to tackle Lascañas' changing testimonies.