Lascañas: Drug lords go to Davao to ‘lie low’
RETIRED POLICEMAN Arturo Lascañas, the confessed Davao Death Squad “handler,” claimed that drug lords enjoy protection in President Rodrigo Duterte’s Davao City.
“Marami na rin akong nalalaman na pinipili pala yung campaigns against illegal drugs dahil ang pinapatay namin wala namang napakalaking drug lord ng Davao na napatay namin (I have learned a lot about how the illegal drugs campaigns are selective because we’ve never killed big-time drug lords in Davao),” he told INQUIRER.net in an exclusive interview. “In fact, nandoon nga yung iba sa ngayon (In fact, some are there now).”
“So pinipili. Hindi ito naging effective (So it’s selective. It’s not effective),” he said in an hour-long interview that airs on Tuesday (March 21) on Radyo Inquirer and Facebook.
“Talagang hindi ito effective kasi kung effective walang drugs sa Davao ngayon. Wala ring drug lords na nakatira (It’s really not effective because if it was there would be no drugs in Davao. No drug lords would living there also),” he said.
“Si Peter Lim doon yan palagi noon. Sabihin natin may tatlo, apat, lima [na drug lord]. Kumbaga parang nag-lie low sila doon sa Davao (Peter Lim was always there before. Let’s say three, four or five drug lords. It’s like they go to Davao to lie low),” he said.
At the one and only hearing conducted by the Senate public order committee earlier this month, Lascañas said Vice Mayor Paolo “Pulong” Duterte, the President’ son, protected a drug lord named Charlie Tan.
Among the incidents that Lascañas recalled was when his police team arrested a Taiwanese in front of Charlie Tan’s KTV bar.
Upon interrogation, the Taiwanese, who spoke a little English and Tagalog, said he went to the bar to settle a debt with Tan.
Lascañas and his group also picked up two Filipino men who were with the Taiwanese. SPO4 Sonny Buenaventura, whose job it was to relay Mayor Duterte’s orders, Lascañas said, instructed him to have the two killed, even though they weren’t connected to the illegal drug trade. Lascañas said one was married to a lawyer while the other was an engineer.
“Sabi niya [Buenaventura] hindi na pwede. Collateral damage na yan. So wala kaming magawa except to follow sa kanyang utos kasi pag si Sonny na ang may sabi, meaning clear na yun kay Superman [code for Duterte] (Buenaventura said we couldn’t let them go. They were already collateral damage. We were not able to do anything because when Sonny orders it, it means it has already been cleared with Mayor Duterte),” he said.
Lascañas said they brought the Taiwanese and the two Filipinos to Ma-a quarry.
Two days after the incident he met with Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, who was then city director of the Davao police.
“Sabi ko negative, wala kaming nakuha. Doon namin sya nakuha sa tapat ng KTV bar na pagmamay-ari ni Charlie Tan. Sabi ni Bato sa akin, parang ano lang yan, elimination of competitor,” Lascañas recalled. (I told him ‘negative,’ we did not get any drugs. We got him in front of the KTV bar owned by Charlie Tan. Bato told me it was a case of a drug lord eliminating his competitor.)
“So sa isip isip ko eh nagiging sundalo pala kami (I started thinking that we’ve become soldiers),” he said, especially since people in Davao knew that Tan was a drug lord.
Not a base
Lascañas clarified that, according to his personal knowledge, drug lords do not have a base of operations in Davao, except for a large drug laboratory the police raided several years ago.
Are drug lords able to safely stay in Davao because of their ties with the Dutertes? Lascañas said, “Kung isipin na lang natin as common sense. Parang ganun (We can think of it as common sense. It’s like that).”
Lascañas, who initially denied the claims of another confessed Davao Death Squad member, Edgar Matobato, returned to the Senate to retract his statements and testify against Duterte and his son.
President Duterte, who was a long-time mayor of Davao City, has been linked to the Davao Death Squad. Testimonies of Lascañas and Matobato point to him as its founder.
The President’s so-called war on drugs has gone national, with over 7,000 killings already recorded in the last eight months.
“Ang nangyari pinapatay mga nakatsinelas lang parang yung ginagawa namin sa Davao (What’s happening is that those who are being killed are those in slippers, like what we are doing in Davao),” Lascañas said./rga