After contentious caucus: Senate to re-open Davao Death Squad probe; Lacson in charge

  • Senators voted 10-7 to re-open probe on DDS amid self-confessed hitman’s latest statements
  • Caucus described as “contentious”
  • Lacson’s committee on public order and dangerous drugs to head probe

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate voted to re-open its probe on the existence of the so-called Davao Death Squad amid the re-appearance of self-confessed hitman Arthur Lascañas and his latest statements.

In a caucus described as “contentious”, 10 senators moved to re-open the investigation. They were Senators Sonny Angara, Paolo Aquino IV, Leila de Lima, Franklin Drilon, Francis Escudero, Riza Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, Antonio Trillanes IV, Ralph Recto, and Joel Villanueva.

Those who voted against were Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Gregorio Honasan, Manny Pacquiao, Cynthia Villar and Miguel Zubiri.

Those who abstained were Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Senators Nancy Binay, JV Ejercito, Panfilo Lacson, and Loren Legarda.

Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Grace Poe were absent from the caucus.

The Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs of which Lacson is head will lead the probe.

While admitting his discomfort over spearheading the probe out of respect for Gordon whose Senate committee on justice and human rights headed the last investigation, Lacson stressed that he is ready to tackle the issue.

“Lest it be misunderstood that I’m shirking from the responsibility of hearing the privilege speech or this issue, that’s far from the truth. It is a mandate, having been referred to the committee on public order and dangerous drugs, which I chair… it’s a mandate and it’s my obligation to hear it,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted him as saying.

Poe earlier recommended the creation of a special committee in case Gordon did not want to invite Lascañas back to the Senate.

The retired policeman made headlines when he re-appeared and retracted his earlier claims denying the existence of the dreaded vigilante group supposedly headed by the president when he was mayor of Davao City.