Lacson camp: ‘Reality check’ at Lascañas hearing meant for PNP
In response to the Inquirer’s March 9 editorial titled “Disturbing ‘reality check,’” the office of Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Thursday clarified a remark made by the lawmaker during the hearing of the Senate committee on public order on the testimony of confessed Davao Death Squad (DDS) hit man Arturo Lascañas.
Alluding to the Senate panel’s decision to close the inquiry after just one hearing, the editorial cited Lacson’s remark when he said that it was “more difficult” to investigate Lascañas’ allegations against Duterte especially that the former longtime Davao City mayor is now President of the Republic.
Lacson then said: “Here’s a reality check. The better opportunity to investigate this was when Mayor [Duterte] was still not president. And Sen. Leila de Lima was then [Commission on Human Rights] chairperson. And even became [Department of Justice secretary]. Why was this investigation neglected? Now that he’s President, that’s when we think of investigating. This is more difficult. I’m just being realistic here.”
A part of the Inquirer editorial read: “Set aside the common mistake of thinking that the national police force reports to a commander in chief. Ignore the erroneous assumption that De Lima, when she was still with the CHR, did not investigate killings associated with the so-called Davao Death Squad. Focus simply on Lacson’s main message: It is difficult, even impossible, to investigate a sitting president.”
In a statement, Lacson’s media relations officer Joel Locsin said the senator was referring to the Philippine National Police (PNP) when he made the “reality check” remark, and not to the Senate “and other independent bodies that have the mandate to investigate high government officials, including the President.”
“Aside from being out of context, the editorial is disturbing in that it went so far as to insinuate that the Senator’s main message is that it “is difficult, even impossible, to investigate a sitting president.” If that were indeed the message, the hearing would not even have pushed through,” Locsin said. “May we also point out that the Senator has, on more than one occasion, criticized the President when he deemed it necessary.”
“It also has to be noted that Lascanas’ conflicting claims, impossible to verify without corroboration, are better investigated by agencies such as the PNP and Commission on Human Rights. Besides, while Lascañas himself admitted he had lied before the Senate, it is not enough to establish one’s statements are contradicting. It remains to be established which of those two statements are lies,” he added.
The March 9 editorial further read: “Holding the most powerful person in the country to account is in fact a difficult undertaking. But if necessary, it must be done. That is the truth. We are sorry to see the Senate shirk its responsibility.”
But Lacson’s staff said the hearing which the senator headed was adjourned not because the Senate was “shirking its responsibility,” but because none of his colleagues objected when a motion to adjourn was made.
“If there was shirking of ‘responsibility’ as you paint it, was it not by the one who should have objected to the motion but was nowhere to be found when senators were deciding on the motion to adjourn?” Locsin added.
In a major turnaround from his previous testimony, Lascañas testified before the Senate last Monday and affirmed the existence of the notorious DDS, a vigilante group in Davao City. The retired policeman claimed then Mayor Duterte ordered and paid them to kill criminals and enemies. IDL/rga
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