Retired Philippines police officer, Arturo Lascanas, said Monday in a news conference that Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte ran a "death squad" when he served as Davao mayor. Lascanas claimed the former mayor paid him and other members of the so-called "Davao Death Squad" to kill criminals and opponents.
"I was one of those who started it," he said, according to CNN. "We implemented the personal instructions of (then-Mayor) Duterte to us. All of the killings we did in Davao city, whether we buried or threw them out to sea."
Lascanas said he's just now speaking out against Duterte because it began weighing on his conscience -- especially his role in the deaths of his two brothers who were killed for using drugs.
"They were involved in illegal drugs," he told CNN. "It was a very painful decision for me. No one knew about what I did, but me."
Last year he testified in a Senate probe and denied being a member of the "Davao Death Squad."
At Monday's news conference, however, Lascanas said he was confessing to "follow God's will."
During the news conference, Lascanas described the series of killings he claimed Duterte had ordered or permitted as mayor of the city. One of those attacks included the 1993 mosque bombings.
Lascanas added that he was among those in the death squad who was ordered to kill journalist Jun Pala. Pala managed to escape twice before being killed in 2003, a murder which still remains unsolved.
Lascanas also claimed Duterte's office paid him an allowance and he received anywhere between 20,000 to 100,000 pesos per kill, CNN reports.
This is the second hitman to speak out against Duterte and Lascanas' claims back up those previously made by Edgar Matobato, who testified before a Philippines Senate hearing last September. Matobato claimed more than 1,000 people were killed by the death squad while Duterte served a s mayor.
Duterte, however, has repeatedly denied any involvement in unlawful killings. His communications secretary, Martin Andanar, said the claims are part of a "demolition job" that's meant to force Duterte from power. "The press conference of self-confessed hitman SPO3 Arthur Lascanas is part of a protracted political drama aimed to destroy the president and to topple his administration," Andanar said. Human rights lawyers have said these allegations could be grounds for impeachment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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