Interpol asked to arrest DDS whistleblower Lascañas

By Edu Punay

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to coordinate with the Interpol to track down and arrest retired policeman Arturo Lascañas, the self-confessed leader of the Davao death squad (DDS) who implicated President Duterte in the killings.

In a memorandum released to the media yesterday, he directed NBI director Dante Gierran to contact Interpol officials to gather information on the location and whereabouts of Lascañas and coordinate with the proper authorities for the arrest of the former policeman.

 Aguirre issued the order after Davao City Regional Trial Court Branch 10 issued an arrest warrant against Lascañas last week over the cases of murder and attempted murder for the killing of broadcaster Juan “Jun” Pala in 2003.
The Davao city prosecutor’s office approved his indictment upon complaint filed by Pala’s wife Louise, citing his extrajudicial confession of the crime in his testimony during Senate investigation last February, when he admitted his involvement in the killing.

Lascañas was able to leave the country last April before the arrest warrant was issued by the court.

He went to Singapore claiming that there are threats against his life after his testimony against the President.

In his testimony before the Senate, Lascañas tagged President Duterte as the mastermind behind the attacks on Pala and other victims when he was still mayor of Davao City.

The confessed killer had also implicated fellow policeman Sonny Buenaventura and Duterte’s driver-bodyguard Jim Tan in the killing of Pala as well as other alleged summary executions in the city by the DDS during Duterte’s tenure as mayor.

But Buenaventura, Tan and other individuals that Lascañas had implicated have not been charged.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said yesterday the request of the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the Interpol to arrest Lascañas proved that the whistleblower was telling the truth.

“This (Interpol arrest request) is clearly meant to intimidate those who will testify against Duterte,” Trillanes said in a statement.

The senator provided security to Lascañas when he testified before the Senate last month, tagging Duterte as the one who ordered the killings of hundreds of criminal suspects when he was mayor of Davao City.

Trillanes said self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, who also testified against Duterte, was also subjected to harassment and intimidation with the filing of various criminal charges against him, including murder.

“These proves that both of them (Lascañas and Matobato) are telling the truth,” the senator said.

Lascañas still abroad

More than two months since he fled from the country, Lascañas has not returned, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said yesterday.

BI spokesperson Ma. Antonette Mangrobang said that as of yesterday, their records showed that Lascañas has not returned to the country since he left for Singapore last April 8.

“He is still out of the country based on our travel records. Last departure was April 8. No record of arrival yet,” said Mangrobang.

When asked if the BI would be able to track Lascañas if he moved to another country, the immigration official said that their information is only limited to the destination of the subject after he left the Philippines.

“Our travel record will only indicate port of disembarkation. We cannot ascertain whether this is his final destination,” she added.

Lascañas was accompanied by family members when he boarded Tiger Airways flight no. 2703 bound for Singapore last April. He was seen passing through the Immigration counter at the Clark International Airport (CIA) at 5:01 p.m. – With Evelyn Macairan, Paolo Romero, Marvin Sy

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