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Now, Lascañas

opinion / Editorial
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Editorial

Now, Lascañas

/ 12:32 AM February 22, 2017

A man who accuses the President of masterminding mass murder is taking an enormous risk: We do not have to believe his statements about fearing for his life for us to understand the danger he faces. Either he is telling the truth, or he isn’t. If he isn’t, he is either out of his mind or playing a dangerous game.

A man who confesses to killing people, and announces his participation in the murder of his own two brothers, is acting against his own interest. So he is going back on previous testimony he gave under oath at the Senate; perjury is the least of his concerns. A raft of murder cases will be waiting for him.

A man who turns his back on decades of devoted service, of what he himself described as “blind loyalty” to a politician he is closely associated with, is effectively cutting off his entire past; he is taking a turn in the road beyond which there is no possibility of return.

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Should we ignore the man because he is lying? Should we decline to play his game—whatever it is, whether it is to extort a fortune or lay the groundwork for a political plan? Should we silence him, because his accusation, if proven true, can lead to impeachment and conviction?

None of the above. In the first place, we need to test the veracity of his statements. How do we know he is in fact lying? How do we determine whether he is in fact playing a high-stakes game? How do we verify his accusation, if in fact he is telling the truth? Secondly: We cannot let pompous senators substitute their politically predetermined conclusions for our own fact-finding. That the man has taken serious risks should tell us that he is, at least, worth listening to.

We should force him to reduce his statements to formal charges, to speak under oath, to prove his accusation.

The courts are the proper venue for such an accuser—but so are the chambers of Congress. The Senate, in particular, has used its power to conduct investigations in aid of legislation to probe into sensational crimes, including the illegal numbers game jueteng, the fertilizer fund scam, and the wave of extrajudicial killings. If the Senate should pass up the chance to help determine the truth of the situation, it will have fallen drastically short of its traditional role—and for what reason?

Recently retired SPO3 Arthur Lascañas enjoyed a formidable reputation in Davao City as someone close to the mayor. Edgar Matobato, who claims he is an original member of the so-called Davao Death Squad, testified in the Senate that Lascañas was the man in charge of the DDS, or that at least he took most of his orders from him.

In his first appearance at the Senate, Lascañas denied the existence of the DDS and his alleged role in it. Now he has gone back on all that. He now asserts that the DDS does in fact exist, and that he took part in the killings. He is waiting for the Senate to call him back, so he can testify under oath.

Political allies of the President like Sen. Dick Gordon will fear that the mere conduct of an inquiry will already be politically damaging; that is a risk. But it isn’t easy to sever ties with the most powerful man in the country; Lascañas has turned his life upside down. The Senate should take that into consideration, and hear the man out.

Then, Andanar

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Desperate times call for desperate measures, and sometimes desperate measures include desperate lies. Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar foolishly impugned the integrity of Senate reporters on Monday when he passed along information he said he received claiming that the Senate press corps had received $1,000 for reporting on the Lascañas news conference.

This is absurd on its face; no idiot would pay any amount of money when the very conditions lend themselves to a news event: A former policeman accusing the President of conspiracy to commit murder, right inside the Senate. It is also absurd any other way you look at it. There was no bribe money, period. In the face of Arthur Lascañas’ revelations, Andanar had no proof, only speculation. He should apologize.

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TAGS: Andanar, Arturo Lascañas, Davao Death Squad, DDS, editorial, Lascañas, Martin Andanar, opinion
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