HE LOOKED calm and collected even as he lay one serious allegation after another against the highest official of the land, and even after saying that he expected to be killed because of all that he has been saying in public.
Indeed, retired SPO3 Arturo Lascañas seemed to know exactly what he wanted to say, although he made it clear he was not about to name any of the religious who have helped him and asked as well that members of his family not be identified.
Lascañas met with PCIJ a fortnight ago, and for about an hour and half on a sunny afternoon, the 56-year-old self-confessed assassin answered the queries thrown at him in a freewheeling interview conducted mostly in English, with a smattering of Tagalog and Bisaya.
PCIJ has prepared more than a dozen snippets from that interview, which touched on a range of topics, among them the President’s longtime friends and aides such as Presidential Management Staff Secretary Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go and businessman Samuel ‘Sammy’ Uy, his girlfriends, and the dead that kept turning up during his watch in Davao City.
The video clips show Lascañas refusing to go into details in matters in which he claims to have no personal knowledge, yet not flinching when the talk veered toward specific murders allegedly committed by the so-called Davao Death Squad or DDS.
He did not blink even as he said that then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte did not only order the killing of his critics, but also used public funds to finance the murders. There was no change in his tone of voice as well as he explained that “neutralize” in police parlance means to kill, and that in the past extrajudicial killings were known as “salvaging.”
Then again, this is the same man who at a Senate hearing this March admitted to killing around 300 people as if he was just recounting the usual events of the day.
In his interview with PCIJ, Lascañas said that his former boss Duterte had not only given him millions of pesos in return for his services, but had also helped him pay for his kidney transplant in October 2015.
Asked why he was now turning against his benefactor (who he said he last met with in 2014), Lascañas said that he felt remorse after “a tremendous recovery and second lease of life.” He also said he had to convince his own family that his turnaround was due to his newfound courage and that he had no other motive.
According to Lascañas, there are at least four other former DDS members who have expressed their intention to come clean because they are similarly being bothered by their conscience.
He said that he himself already has a “written confession”: his 70-page handwritten journal, which he said he began writing on March 24, 2016, a Maundy Thursday.
At the end of the interview, PCIJ asked Lascañas to write down in brief what he thinks of the President. He promptly obliged and wrote on a page of a notebook: “That I am Arturo Lascañas, My Personal description on the temper of Mayor Rody is that he has the momentum of Lethal Temper that he can summon me or any other person at his disposal to Kill someone as he Wishes.”
“Eternal Punishment is Real and is coming!”
He then scrawled “Arturo” on the page. — With reporting by Nancy C. Carvajal and Davinci Maru, PCIJ, March 2017