Philippines: Vice President Says Accusations of Killings Implicating President Duterte Cannot Be Ignored — “Imputation of such monstrous crimes to the president … can no longer be brushed aside.”

In this July 1, 2016 file photo, President Rodrigo Duterte, right, and Vice President Leni Robredo, listen to the speech by outgoing armed forces chief Lt.Gen. Glorioso Miranda during the Change-of-Command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. It was the first meeting between Duterte and Robredo following their separate inaugurals. AP/Aaron Favila, File

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday expressed alarm over the recent testimony of self-confessed Davao Death Squad leader Arthur Lascañas.

Earlier this week, Lascañas claimed at a press conference at the Senate that the DDS exists and that they personally received orders from President Rodrigo Duterte, when he was still Davao City mayor, to kill drug suspects.

READ: Davao Death Squad ‘leader’ resurfaces, retracts denials

“The imputation of such monstrous crimes to the president is unprecedented in its gravity, and can no longer be brushed aside by mere denials,” Robredo said in a statement.

Robredo called on the president and his administration to support the Senate investigation into the testimonies of Lascañas and Edgar Matobato on the existence of the death squad.

“Accusations of bribery to media and ouster plots can no longer work and the fact that both witnesses have come forward to accuse the most powerful man in the country, possibly at great risk to themselves, requires that their claims be taken seriously and be given careful consideration,” the vice president said.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar had claimed, citing classified intelligence reports, that Senate beat reporters had been offered $1,000 to cover the press conference that Lascañas and lawyers from the Free Legal Assistance Group held Monday.

Senate reporters slammed Andanar for the allegation and demanded an apology from him. He refused to apologize for his claim and said that he based his information on a “confidential intelligence report.” He also said that he did not say that reporters accepted the money.

Andanar also said that the confession of Lascañas was part of a demolition job against the president.

“We urge the public to remain vigilant in the face of these alarming developments,” Robredo said.

The Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson is set to conduct an inquiry into Lascañas’ claim.

Majority of senators wanted to know why Lascañas changed his testimony, from denying the existence of the DDS last year to now claiming that he was involved in killings in Davao City.

RELATED: It’s final: Hitman to face Senate


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