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Aguirre asks DFA to cancel Lascañas' passport



Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Thursday said he will ask the Department of Affairs (DFA) to cancel the passport retired police officer Arturo Lascañas, who left the country last April for Singapore.

Aguirre said that Lascañas has three warrants of arrest issued against him, noting that he has to be brought to the court to face the charges against him.

”Since he is abroad and since there is no indication that he will return, we are constrained to request the Department of Foreign Affairs to cancel his Philippine Passport,” Aguirre said in a statement.

”I will be formalizing a request with Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano of DFA for the immediate cancellation of the passport of Mr. Lascañas. Apparently, after he left the country and went tro Singapore last April he has not shown any intention of returning to the country,” he added.

The Davao City Regional Trial Court Branch 10 issued an arrest warrant against Lascañas last week over the cases of murder and attempted murder over the killing of broadcaster Juan “Jun” Pala in 2003.

The Davao City Prosecutor's office approved his indictment upon complaint filed by Pala's wife Louise, citing his extrajudicial confession of the crime in his testimony during Senate investigation last February where he admitted his involvement in the killing.

Murder is a non-bailable offense.

Before the arrest warrant was issued by the court, Lascañas was able to leave the country last April.

Aguirre said that Lascañashas to be brought before the court to face charges against him.

”If he believe in his innocence then he should welcome his arrest as chance for him to clear his name and get on with his life. However, if he is guilty, we cannot tolerate his continuing flight,” he explained noted.

”As it is said, when a crime goes unpunished, the worl is unbalanced and the heavens will look down on us in shame. We cannot allow it. We will be remiss in our duty. We are equally guilty if we do so,” Aguirre noted.

Last June 13, Aguirre ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to track down and arrest Lascañas.

In a memorandum issued on June 8 but was released to the media on Tuesday, Aguirre ordered NBI Director Dante Gierran to coordinate with the International Police Organization (Interpol) to gather information on the location and whereabouts of Lascañas.

“In the interest of the service and pursuant to the provisions of existing laws, you are hereby directed to coordinate with the (Interpol) to gather information on the location and whereabouts of… Lascañas and to coordinate with the proper authorities for his apprehension,” Aguirre said in his memorandum.

Lascañas left the Philippines with his family onboard Tiger Airways flight 2703 to Singapore last April 8. His return ticket was April 22, 2017 but Bureau of Immigration spokesperson Atty. Maria Antonette Bucasas Mangrobang said they have no record of his return. She added that they cannot ascertain if Singapore was his final destination or a stop over.

It will be recalled that Lascañas in the March 6 senate hearing accused Duterte of paying DDS members up to PHP100, 000 to kill criminals as well as his enemies when he was still the Davao mayor.

Lascañas also implicated Duterte's son Paolo - now Davao City vice mayor - in the killings.

Edgar Matobato, another self-confessed DDS assassin, had also testified in the Senate that the President had wanted Pala dead for criticizing him in his radio program.

In pursuing the case against Lascanas, the Davao City Prosecutor’s Office used his extrajudicial confession during the hearing of the Senate committee on public order headed by Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

Besides the President, Lascañas had also named fellow police officer SPO4 Sonny Buenaventura and Jim Tan, Mr. Duterte’s bodyguard, in the murder of Pala.

Christopher Lloyd T. Caliwan/PNA