Philippines police officer admits to 200 killings while Duterte was mayor

Former Philippine National Police officer Arthur LascaƱas told a Senate committee that he was personally involved in nearly 200 extrajudicial killings by the "Davao Death Squad" while current President Rodrigo Duterte was mayor of the city. Photo by Mark R. Cristino/EPA

March 6 (UPI) — A retired Philippines police officer testified he killed nearly 200 people while a member of a “death squad” in Davao City when Rodrigo Duterte was mayor.

Arturo Lascanas told a Senate committee that there were more than 300 extrajudicial killings while Duterte was mayor of Davao City from 2013 to 2016. He said that he was personally responsible for about 200 of them, beginning in 1989, as a member of the team of hit men known as the Davao Death Squad.

Lascanas said Duterte ordered the killings of his personal and political enemies, and told the committee that payment for each killing depended on the victim killed. Duterte ordered the killing of radio broadcaster Jun Pala, he said, because of Pala’s critical views of the mayor, and also ordered the bombing of several Davao City mosques in retaliation for an explosion in the city’s Catholic cathedral.

Lascanas also testified that he facilitated what he suspected was a shipment of drugs in 2012 or 2013 at the request of Paolo Duterte, Duterte’s son and Davao City vice mayor at the time. A plan to open a 40-foot container after it arrived in Davao City from China, containing furniture for the younger Duterte’s home but believed to also contain drugs, was stopped at the last minute. Instead of opening the van and having Lascanas arrest a suspected drug importer, identified as Charlie Tan, Paolo Duterte said he would instead keep the contents of the container without police involvement, thus protecting Tan..

Lascanas admitted to giving false testimony at a Senate committee hearing in 2016, but said he experienced a spiritual conversion and sought to correct his earlier comments.


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