Retired Philippine policeman says worked for 'death squad' under Duterte

Duterte's legal counsel, Salvadore Panelo, said Lascanas' allegations were a "continuing fabrication" and "another false narration".

Lascanas, when he was still a policeman, initially denied to the Senate inquiry that he was involved.

"Our people are aware that this character assassination is nothing but vicious orchestrated by sectors affected by the reforms initiated by the Duterte administration", Andanar said in a statement. He did not respond to Lascanas's detailed claims.

In a separate statement, Andanar refused to acknowledge the accusations of Lascañas and said that the press conference on Monday morning was part of a "protracted political drama" against the president.

Since Duterte's inauguration June 30, an anti-drug drive has seen more than 7,000 people killed over suspected drug links - with 60 percent of the deaths attributed to "vigilante-style killings" and the remainder to police operations, according to national police data cited by Rappler.

Meanwhile, Davao City Police Director S/Supt.

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

On Monday, Lascanas asserted that the Davao death squad was no myth and he was one of those who carried out secret killings of drug dealers and criminals at Duterte's behest.

"I had my own two brothers killed".

Lascanas said he had decided his "obedience and loyalty" to Duterte must end and had promised God that he would confess.

Former police officer Arthur Lascanas speaks during a press conference at the Senate in Manila on February 20, 2017.

The self-confessed hitman, who worked as a cop, said that Duterte personally ordered them to execute killings of drug offenders.

One of their first victims, a suspected drug lord, was gunned down and left with a message that warned others: "Don't emulate".

"It is true, the Davao death squad, or DDS, really exists", Lascanas told reporters at the Senate in Manila.

Lascanas said he and his group shot dead a kidnapping suspect along with the man's pregnant wife, young son, father-in-law and two others in another attack with Duterte's approval.

Lascanas added in 1993 he had direct orders from Duterte to kill religious leader Jun Barsabal for land-grabbing in Davao, and also submitted an affidavit saying he was ready to testify before any government agency, including the Senate.

Another target was radio commentator Jun Pala, who had angered Duterte with critical commentaries.

  • Leroy Wright