- Malacañang Palace confirms meeting with some senators on Tuesday
- However, it denied discussing SPO3 Lascañas’ claims in the meeting
- Senator Vicente Sotto also belied De Lima’s claim that they were summoned by the President to pressure them into stopping the probe
MANILA, Philippines – The Malacañang Palace has confirmed President Rodrigo Duterte’s meeting with some senators, but the recent claims by SPO3 Arturo Lascañas on Davao Death Squad was never discussed, contrary to Senator Leila De Lima’s allegation.
On Wednesday, De Lima said the Palace is in ‘panic mode’ over Lascañas’ revelations and was prompted to summon some senators after the Tuesday caucus gave the go-signal for Senate to investigate Duterte’s link to DDS.
“There is no truth to the allegation of Senator [Leila] De Lima that the senators were pressured by Malacañang with regards to the reopening of the investigation on the DDS,” said Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella.
Senator Vicente Sotto III also admitted the meeting indeed took place, but denied they were pressured by Malacañang to stop the probe before it began.
Sotto said it was him and Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Gregorio Honasan who sought an audience with the President since last week, but the meeting only materialized on Tuesday.
“Lascañas issue was not even a sidelight. He (Duterte) never mentioned anything about Senate issues,” said Sotto in a text message to Inquirer.
This was confirmed by Abella in a statement on Wednesday.
“As Senator [Vicente] Sotto said, the group of senators met with the President but they did not talk about the case of the retired police officer Lascañas.”
On Tuesday, the Senate voted 10-8 in favor of investigating Lascañas claims, despite opposition from other members, most notably Senator Richard Gordon, who said the self-confessed DDS hitman should instead go to court if he has sufficient evidence to back his allegations against the President.