Lascañas denies getting paid to testify

Lascañas denied that he was approached or paid by someone after his first Senate appearance in October 2016.

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED)– Senator Manny Pacquiao on Monday questioned self-confessed Davao Death Squad (DDS) hitman Arturo Lascañas' flip-flopping testimonies over the existence of the group.

During a Senate committee hearing, Senator Pacquiao, a Duterte ally, pressed Lascañas on his decision to recant his statement last October that the DDS was just a "media hype."

The senator said, it does not make sense for the self-confessed hitman to retract his earlier statement when his supposed “spiritual renewal” took place a year before.

Lascanas reportedly confessed his participation in the DDS to a priest in 2015 while he was battling a kidney ailment.

“Nagkumpisal ka na magsasabi ng totoo, eh 'di ka pala nagkumpisal sa pari, pwede bang sabihin mo sa Panginoon na magbabago ang isip mo?” Pacquiao told Lascañas.

Lascañas also denied that he was approached or paid by someone after his first Senate appearance in October 2016.

He also said that during the October hearing, he was not yet ready to divulge his knowledge out of fear for his safety and that of his family.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, who chairs the panel hearing Lascañas’ claims, said Lascañas’ recantation “does not add up” if one takes into consideration the hitman’s “spiritual renewal.”

“Sabi mo, 2015 ang spiritual renewal mo. Hindi ba dapat binigay mo ang buong sarili mo sa Diyos. Bakit yung subsequent action eh na-delay?” Senator Lacson asked.

Lascañas backed the claims of another self-confessed DDS hitman, Edgar Matobato, that the DDS existed and carried out killings on orders of longtime Davao City mayor and now President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Lascañas recanted his testimony last month and admitted his involvement in the killings in Davao City, citing his desire to clear his conscience.

“Alam mo, dito sa mga testimony mo na nakita ko, hindi ko alam, but before that, I will say this, I will appeal na i-contempt ka sa Senate,” Manny Pacquiao told Lascañas.

When Pacquiao raised his motion to cite Lascañas in contempt, Senators Risa Hontiveros and Vicente Sotto III objected. Sotto was then seen talking to Pacquiao. After this, the panel did not push through with the voting on Pacquiao's motion.

"Bigyan natin ng pagkakataon for an explanation. I will explain that properly in the floor, for giving him a chance to explain himself," Senator Pacquiao added.

Source: abs-cbn