MALACAÑANG said Sunday the journal of self-confessed Davao Death Squad team leader Arturo Lascañas as cited by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism was a “fabrication.”
“As I have previously stated, the so-called journal is a fabrication,” Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
“The fact alone that it was not presented at the first opportunity is already a giveaway that it is an obvious and a no-brainer afterthought.
“Moreover, the contents of the journal speak for themselves, obviously written by a lawyer with a penchant for literary prose, and certainly not by an ordinary police sergeant who cannot understand the words like ‘Waterloo,’ ‘presidential derby’ and ‘telecommunication.’
Panelo made his statement even as Senator Bam Aquino said hearing the testimony of retired Lascañas on the Davao Death Squad today was an indication of the Senate’s independence.
Lascañas will face the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs led by Senator Panfilo Lacson after the majority of the senators voted to allow his testimony.
“The Senate should not shirk from pursuing the truth. The public should know the whole truth on this issue,” said Aquino who was among 10 senators who voted to hear Lascañas’ claim.
Recently, the PCIJ said “We take strong exception to [the] unfounded claims of columnist Rigoberto Tiglao of The Manila Times that the story was ‘fake news’ about a ‘fake journal’ and its release, one ‘managed’ by Senator Antonio Trillanes II.”
The PCIJ said Dean Jose Manuel Diokno is the national chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group or FLAG and has been a PCIJ trustee since 2015.
The group said that, contrary to Tiglao’s claim, neither Diokno nor any of the FLAG lawyers had anything to do with the writing of the journal of SPO3 Arturo Lascañas or the publication of the PCIJ story.
The PCIJ said Trillanes had nothing to do as well with the production and distribution of the PCIJ story. The PCIJ obtained a copy of the journal from Lascañas through sources close to him a fortnight ago.
But before running the story on Feb. 27, the PCIJ said it verified the accuracy of its contents from various agencies and in interviews with officers of the Philippine National Police, people privy to the medical condition of Lascañas since he fell ill in 2015 and, through conduit sources, Lascañas himself.
To validate the details mentioned in the journal, the PCIJ obtained information about the retirement benefits that Lascañas received in December 2016, the identities of those he had named in his journal, the circumstances surrounding his testimony before the Senate on Oct. 3, 2016, the testimony of DDS whistleblower Edgar Matobato before the Senate on Sept. 15, 2016, and the official investigation reports and court records related to the existence of the “Davao Death Squad.”
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