February 27, 2017
OMBUDSMAN IS THE PROPER VENUE FOR LASCANAS' RECENT CLAIMS - GORDON ADVISES
Senator Richard J. Gordon has advised that the Office of the Ombudsman, not the Senate, is the proper agency to take cognizance of the recent claims made by retired Senior Police Officer 3 (SPO3) Arturo Lascanas regarding the existence of the Davao Death Squad (DDS).
In a privilege speech delivered last week, Gordon pointed out that if Lascanas and the people behind him really have evidence to support his allegations that President Rodrigo Duterte paid between P20,000 to P100,000 to kill several personalities when he was still Davao City mayor, they could file a complaint with the Ombudsman.
"You can go to the Ombudsman. File a complaint there. The Ombudsman is not exempted from investigating anybody in this country. And if the decision is for impeachment, you can go to the Lower House," he said, referring to Lascanas.
Gordon noted that while the Senate is a forum where people can come to complain about any injustice done to them and a forum where they get things done primarily through legislation passed based on investigations by various committees, it is not a forum for grandstanding.
"Indeed, this is a forum. But not a forum upon which people can perorate and create publicity at the expense of others after they have lied. This is the forum upon which people complain that their relatives have been killed and we act. The relatives come to us...We cannot allow our Senate to be the cockpit of lies, the cockpit of barefaced disrespect" he said.
The chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights said that the Senate, in its rightful duty, can refer Lascanas' allegations to whatever committee it may see fit if there is a new evidence. However, he added that he will not hear the retired police officer since there would always be a question of whether or not he (Lascanas) is telling the truth this time.
"I am called to make that decision. I have already made mine. And, if it is going to be referred to me, I will not hear this man. Ako, at least I speak for myself, I will not believe him. Hindi ba ang unang tanong diyan ng lahat ay 'Nagsasabi ka na ba ng totoo ngayon o hindi?' That is why I say, ilipat natin siya," he said.
Gordon stressed that when a person waits for what he claims to be the right time before divulging the truth, he becomes inconsistent and thus appears dubious.
When the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights conducted an investigation into recent and rampant killings in the country last year, Lascanas flatly denied allegations of his involvement in the DDS and denied the existence of the alleged hit squad during the committee's October 3, 2016 hearing. But in a press conference at the Senate last week, Lascanas made a complete retraction of his earlier testimonies, adding that he was pressured into lying during the said hearing.
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