The power of conscience

“The torture of a bad conscience is the hell of a living soul.”

John Calvin -French theologian and reformer

The turnaround of SP03 Arthur Lascañas on the murders he committed as a member of the Davao Death Squad must have stunned Malacanang, all that it can come up with was Press Secretary Martin Andanar’s preposterous allegation that Senate reporters were given $1,000 each to attend the press conference morning of Wednesday at the Senate.

Senate reporters and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines slammed Andanar for the irresponsible allegation.

Andanar immediately backtracked finding himself trapped in quicksand of dubious press statements with his destabilization angle. The more he tried to wiggle out of his “destab” story, the more that his credibility sank.

That was obviously a diversionary tactic which reporters should be conscious of and not fall into the trap of losing focus which is Lascañas’ explosive revelations of the murders committed allegedly upon orders of Duterte.

Former SPO3 Arthur Lascanas. Photo by Senate Media.

Lascañas’ said they were given P20,000 or P50,000, sometimes P100,000 for every kill they accomplish.

But in the murder of broadcaster Jun Pala, a staunch critic of Duterte, Lascañas said he got much. much more. He recalled:

“Two days after (Pala was killed), binigyan kami ni Mayor Rody Duterte, through SPO4 Sonny Buenaventura ng 3 million pesos. Hinati namin ni Sonny Buenaventura ang one million, and then gi-present ko kay Jim Tan ang two million pesos. Binigay ni Jim Tan sa akin ang one million, kay Jim Tan ang one million – para sa kaniya at sa kaniyang players.

“At for several months kung hindi ako nagkamali, tinawag ako ni Sonny Buenaventura through cellphone, nag-advise sa akin na mag-proceed sa bahay ng girlfriend ni Mayor Rody Duterte sa Ecoland. Kasi doon, magbigay pa si Mayor Rody ng bonus sa amin. Ang sabi ko kay Sonny: “Magsama ba kami?” Sabi niya, “Tapos na ako. Kunin mo ang one million mo doon.” Pumunta ako mag-isa, pumasok ako sa bahay at doon sinabi ni Mayor Rody sa akin ang one million. Sabi niya, one million – tinanggap ko at sabi ko, “Salamat, sir…” and then umalis ako. Ito po ang buong katotohanan sa Pala Murder Case. Consider na po ito ngayon as ‘solved’. Isa ako sa nagpatay kay Jun Pala. “

But what made Lascañas, who was supported by the Duterte camp after his kidney operation despite his being no longer active in the DDS, turn around when just four months ago he refuted the testimony of DDS hit man Edgar Matobato at a Senate hearing saying DDS was just a “media hype.”

He even tangled with Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who tested his credibility by asking him about the watch he gave Matobato.

The presscon last Monday was facilitated by Trillanes, who is also helping with the security of Lascañas. Human rights lawyers Cel Diokno, Alex Padilla and Arno Sanidad are providing him legal support.

Trillanes said Lascañas had been bothered for sometime by his conscience for the killings he had committed especially after his kidney operation which he considers God’s way of giving him a chance to correct the wrong he has done.

Last October’s summon by the Senate caught Lascañas unprepared emotionally, spiritually and in matters of securing members of his family. But he felt guilty after his Senate testimony so he sought the advice of a priest who connected him to Trillanes.

In his narration of the murders he had participated in, the one that made Lascañas break down was his role in the killng of his brothers, Cecilio and Fernando.

“Dahil po sa my blind loyalty and obedience kay Mayor Rody Duterte at sa kaniyang campaign against criminality and illegal drugs, dito po nakagawa ako ng isang, a lethal judgment call that lead to the untimely death of my two brothers. Sila po ay involved sa illegal drugs, gumamit ng illegal drugs at nagproteksiyon. Napakasakit po ang ginawa kong desisyon. Wala pong nakakaalam nito, except ako lang. “

“Alam ko ngayon, iyong mga pamangkin ko na nalaman nila na isa ako sa instrumento sa pagkapatay ng dalawa kong kapatid, si Cecilio at si Fernando. Tanggap ko po kung anong mangyari sa akin. Dahil po sa sobra kong loyalty sa kaniyang campaign, nagawa ko po ito – sarili kong dalawang kapatid, pinapatay ko. “

It must be torture for him dealing with a guilty conscience. His public confession was his way dealing with it.

His concluding statement at the presscon was that of a man who has come to terms with whatever fate awaits him: “ Mapatay man ako o papatayin ako, kontento na ako na nagawa ko ang promise ko sa Diyos – magsagawa ng isang public confession. Na sana po, darating ang panahon na magkaroon tayo ng isang Pambansang Kapulisan na totoo po na may dangal, maka-Diyos, makabayan at makatao; na totoo po ang tungkulin, ang kaniyang sinumpaang tungkulin na magsilbi sa bayan. To serve and protect, para po sa ikabubuti ng nakararami. Hindi po to serve and collect. “

He sent a message to his fellow policemen and to the Duterte government:

“Panawagan ko po sa mga kasamahan ko sa Pambansang Kapulisan, na hindi po solusyon ang pagpatay. Managot po tayo sa batas ng tao at batas ng Diyos. Uusigin tayo ng konsensiya natin, hanggang sa katapusan ng angkan natin kung dalahin natin ito sa libingan natin.”

FOR FURTHER READING

TRANSCRIPT: Senate press briefing of former Davao police officer Arthur Lascanas

Dito sa gagawin kong isang public confession, ito po ay pagsunod ko po sa kagustuhan ng Diyos, at…

Malacañang shaken by Lascañas exposé

However Malacanang tries to discredit SPO3 Arturo Lascañas explosive exposé about President…

No such thing as ‘limpio’ in a dirty job

In the narration of SP03 Arthur Lascañas of the “jobs” he had done as member of the Davao Death…

About Vera Files

Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

Contact Us

Email us at newsroom@verafiles.org