Ex-Philippines cop says he killed 200 people as part of death squad

A senate inquiry is currently looking into allegations of extrajudicial killings committed by a hit squad allegedly set up by President Rodrigo Duterte when he was mayor of Davao City.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Former cop Artuso Lascanas testifies during a senate inquiry on March 3, 2017.

Former Philippines police officer Arturo Lascanas has confessed to killing nearly 200 people in extrajudicial killings under President Rodrigo Duterte's orders when Duterte was mayor of Davao City.

Lascanas is testifying before a senate hearing on public order and drugs which has been tasked to look into allegations of extrajudicial killings linked to Duterte. Lascanas was a leader of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS), a hit squad operating while Duterte was mayor the city.

The DDS is allegedly responsible for summary executions of people involved in drug-related crimes and other offences.

President Rodrigo Duterte listens to Philippines National Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa during a meeting in Manila.

Changed testimony

The former police officer said he had personally killed 300 people and of those, about 200 during his time with the DDS.

Lascanas said he lied during a senate inquiry into the alleged extrajudicial killings last October because police had warned him to deny everything, and because of fears for his family's safety.

He said he changed his testimony because he was tormented by what he had done and wanted the truth to "set me free."

It was "because of my desire to tell all the truth, not only because of my spiritual renewal, but the fear of God, I wanted to clear my conscience."

TRT World Dean Bernardo has more details.

Lascanas, who broke down in tears before the media when he revealed his story two weeks ago, is the second person to testify before lawmakers to Duterte's alleged links to the clandestine hit squad.

During last year's inquiry, self-confessed hitman and former DDS member Edgar Matobato, claimed that Duterte himself founded the DDS in 1988 and ordered the killings of criminals and opponents.

Edgar Matobato during his testimony at the senate inquiry last year. (AFP)

Duterte denies claims

Duterte and his allies have dismissed all the claims as a plot to discredit the new administration's war on drugs.

More than 8,000 alleged criminals have been killed nationwide since Duterte took office eight months ago.

Duterte has repeatedly denied involvement in summary executions, either as president or during his 22 years as mayor of Davao City.

His police chief Ronald dela Rosa, a former Davao police chief under Duterte, had dismissed the DDS as a myth created by the media.

Police reject activists' allegations that they are behind most of those killings and say they were responsible for 2,555 of those cases, when drug suspects had resisted arrest.

On Monday, dela Rosa announced the re-launch of police anti-narcotics operations after a month-long suspension of police involvement in the campaign.

Members of the Philippine National Police hold up plastic bags of crystal meth, known locally as "shabu," after they were seized following a police anti-drug operation in Manila, Philippines. (Reuters file)

TRTWorld and agencies