Much ado about Lascañas’ ‘spiritual renewal’ | Inquirer Opinion
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Much ado about Lascañas’ ‘spiritual renewal’

During this season of Lent the Greek word metanoia is often heard during retreats and other spiritual exercises. It refers to a transformative change of heart. More than just repentance, it is a spiritual conversion, a turning away from one’s sinful ways.

At the Senate hearing last March 6, senators belittled confessed hitman and retired police officer Arturo Lascañas’ “spiritual renewal” that happened in 2015 and which, he said, had to do with his recantation. By looking askance at this “spiritual renewal,” were they then accepting the fact that he lied at the Senate hearing on Oct. 3, 2016?


During his first testimony that October, Lascañas smashed Edgar Matobato’s public confession about being part of the Davao Death Squad that killed hundreds when

Rodrigo Duterte was mayor of Davao City. He came in his crisp police uniform and told the Senate and the nation on live television then: There is no such thing as the DDS.


Lascañas retired in December 2016.

In the March 6 hearing, he recanted his October testimony, gave credence to Matobato’s confession, and claimed some 200 killings on which he had participated. There was indeed such as a group called DDS, he asserted, then provided details of its murderous activities.

He attributed his turnaround to a spiritual experience in 2015 when he thought his life was ebbing because of kidney failure. (He went through a successful kidney transplant operation after that.)

Several senators kept hammering at that spiritual experience and asked why, if indeed he had one, he made a previous testimony that he now says is a lie.

Yes, he indeed lied on Oct. 3, 2016, he said. As a police officer, he was ordered “to deny everything.” Now, March 6, 2017, he is telling the truth. That is the gist of what he told the Senate committee headed by Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

Sen. Joel Villanueva of Jesus is Lord had to regale everyone with the Bible story where Jesus came to the rescue of an adulterous woman being stoned to death. He quoted Jesus: “Go and sin no more.”

Villanueva then turned to Lascañas and asked: “Why did you sin again?” (That is, with his lie at the Senate hearing on Oct. 3, 2016.)


All the while, Lascañas was saying, he is now correcting that lie. He was denying then, he is confessing now. It is for the people to decide which of his two testimonies is the truth, and which is the lie.

But pugilist-turned-Bible-pounder-turned-senator Manny Pacquiao just had to say his piece, that he can teach Lascañas a thing or two about “spiritual renewal” if the latter wished him to, then proceeded to say to the retired police officer, as if ready to score a KO: “I will now contempt you.” (He meant that he would hold Lascañas in contempt, for recanting what he had said last year.)

That was quite pathetic, but Pacquiao is a senator of the republic and we are not. The boxer withdrew the move after Sen. Tito Sotto whispered something in his ear.

Legal analysts are saying that, more important than Lascañas’ recantation and revelations—besides hard evidence, of course—are the reasons for his change of heart. Why, indeed, make such damning accusations—true or not—when he is at a vulnerable time in his life? Was it God? Was it gold?

How define spiritual renewal, to which Lascañas attributes his need to publicly confess and face danger? He did speak about the details of his spiritual experience, his own road to Damascus that happened long before his two testimonies, but this did not mean he had become impervious to fear and lapses. This time he sought the help of church persons who led him to lawyers and to the Senate.

The apostle Peter lied three times. What I know about spiritual renewal is that it is not a one-shot deal or like scoring a KO against evil, but a continuing, everyday effort. To renew also means to begin again.

At FEU’s Techno Lobby on March 9-25 is “Hudyat,” an all-media exhibit spotlighting “human dignity amid the spate of extrajudicial killings in the country.” The works of National Artist Ben Cabrera and 18 other artists are on display. (“Hudyat” means alarm, signal.)

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TAGS: Arturo Lascañas, Davao Death Squad, extrajudicial killings, panfilo lacson, Philippine news updates, Sen. Manny Pacquiao
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