duterte davao killings ripley pkg_00000808.jpg
Renato Lumawag
duterte davao killings ripley pkg_00000808.jpg
Now playing
02:34
The Philippine president's war on drugs
RTVM
Now playing
01:34
See $5.5M worth of luxury vehicles get crushed
Now playing
01:02
Duterte's 'misogynist' kiss sparks anger (2018)
Now playing
02:34
Trump, Duterte meet during ASEAN summit
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he answers questions from the press at Manila International Airport on March 23, 2017.  
Duterte warned he may impose martial law and suspend elections for tens of thousands of local posts, fuelling concerns about democracy under his rule. Duterte said he was considering both measures as part of his controversial campaign to eradicate illegal drugs in society, and that martial law would also solve a range of other security threats. / AFP PHOTO / NOEL CELIS        (Photo credit should read NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)
NOEL CELIS/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he answers questions from the press at Manila International Airport on March 23, 2017. Duterte warned he may impose martial law and suspend elections for tens of thousands of local posts, fuelling concerns about democracy under his rule. Duterte said he was considering both measures as part of his controversial campaign to eradicate illegal drugs in society, and that martial law would also solve a range of other security threats. / AFP PHOTO / NOEL CELIS (Photo credit should read NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:00
Philippines president slams Kim Jong Un
Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte speaks during his first press conference since he claimed victory in the presidential election, at a restaurant in Davao City, on the southern island of Mindanao on May 15, 2016.
Duterte vowed on May 15 to reintroduce capital punishment and give security forces "shoot-to-kill" orders in a devastating war on crime. / AFP / TED ALJIBE        (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images
Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte speaks during his first press conference since he claimed victory in the presidential election, at a restaurant in Davao City, on the southern island of Mindanao on May 15, 2016. Duterte vowed on May 15 to reintroduce capital punishment and give security forces "shoot-to-kill" orders in a devastating war on crime. / AFP / TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:21
This man compares himself to Hitler
philippines marawi duterte isis watson lklv_00002523.jpg
philippines marawi duterte isis watson lklv_00002523.jpg
Now playing
01:31
Philippines President begs for forgiveness
Philippine soldiers ride in the back of a truck as they leave a military camp in Marawi, on the southern island of Mindanao on May 25, 2017, to reinforce soldiers at the battlefront in the city centre days after Muslim extremists attacked the city.
Philippine troops aboard helicopters and in armoured tanks battled Islamist militants inside a southern city on May 25, as reports emerged of the gunmen murdering civilians. / AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE        (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
TED ALJIBE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Philippine soldiers ride in the back of a truck as they leave a military camp in Marawi, on the southern island of Mindanao on May 25, 2017, to reinforce soldiers at the battlefront in the city centre days after Muslim extremists attacked the city. Philippine troops aboard helicopters and in armoured tanks battled Islamist militants inside a southern city on May 25, as reports emerged of the gunmen murdering civilians. / AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:57
Martial law order creates ghost island
philippines death squad testimony ripley_00001218.jpg
philippines death squad testimony ripley_00001218.jpg
Now playing
02:18
Duterte's Davao death squad investigated
duterte swerves towards china _00013521.jpg
duterte swerves towards china _00013521.jpg
Now playing
04:13
Philippines' Duterte pivots towards China
Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte speaks during his first press conference since he claimed victory in the presidential election, at a restaurant in Davao City, on the southern island of Mindanao on May 15, 2016.
Duterte vowed on May 15 to reintroduce capital punishment and give security forces "shoot-to-kill" orders in a devastating war on crime. / AFP / TED ALJIBE        (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images
Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte speaks during his first press conference since he claimed victory in the presidential election, at a restaurant in Davao City, on the southern island of Mindanao on May 15, 2016. Duterte vowed on May 15 to reintroduce capital punishment and give security forces "shoot-to-kill" orders in a devastating war on crime. / AFP / TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:15
President Duterte: 5 outrageous quotes
BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 20: President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping review the honor guard as they attend a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People on October 20, 2016 in Beijing, China. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is on a four-day state visit to China, his first since taking power in late June, with the aim of improving bilateral relations.  (Photo by Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 20: President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping review the honor guard as they attend a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People on October 20, 2016 in Beijing, China. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is on a four-day state visit to China, his first since taking power in late June, with the aim of improving bilateral relations. (Photo by Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:37
Philippine President announces separation from US
Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte speaks during his first press conference since he claimed victory in the presidential election, at a restaurant in Davao City, on the southern island of Mindanao on May 15, 2016.
Duterte vowed on May 15 to reintroduce capital punishment and give security forces "shoot-to-kill" orders in a devastating war on crime. / AFP / TED ALJIBE        (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images
Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte speaks during his first press conference since he claimed victory in the presidential election, at a restaurant in Davao City, on the southern island of Mindanao on May 15, 2016. Duterte vowed on May 15 to reintroduce capital punishment and give security forces "shoot-to-kill" orders in a devastating war on crime. / AFP / TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:03
China, Philippines sign bilateral agreements
philippines duterte china summit visit rivers pkg_00002328.jpg
philippines duterte china summit visit rivers pkg_00002328.jpg
Now playing
02:22
Philippine president visits China for key summit
Duterte
Reuters
Duterte
Now playing
02:05
Duterte tells Obama to 'go to hell'
Front-running presidential candidate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte gestures during his second news conference after voting in a polling precinct at Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School, Matina district, his hometown in Davao city in southern Philippines Monday, May 9, 2016. Duterte was leading by a wide margin in unofficial tallies but still refuses to claim victory. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Bullit Marquez/AP
Front-running presidential candidate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte gestures during his second news conference after voting in a polling precinct at Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School, Matina district, his hometown in Davao city in southern Philippines Monday, May 9, 2016. Duterte was leading by a wide margin in unofficial tallies but still refuses to claim victory. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Now playing
02:56
Who is Rodrigo Duterte?

Story highlights

Former cop who claims to have run death squad testifies before Philippines congress

Purported Davao Death Squad leader Arturo Lascanas says he killed almost 200 people

(CNN) —  

The self-proclaimed head of the notorious Davao Death Squad (DDS) has claimed under oath that he killed almost 200 people and was paid millions of pesos – more than $20,000 – for his actions by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.

Arturo Lascanas, a retired police officer, told the Philippine Senate that DDS members received money from the then-mayor in exchange for brutal killings of not only criminals but also of Duterte’s enemies in politics and the media. At the time, Duterte was mayor of the southern Philippines city of Davao.

“We were motivated by the reward system … when a killing is ordered and there’s a price,” he said. On top of payment for individual hits, he said that he had for 20 years received a monthly stipend of P100,000 (around $2,000) from Duterte.

The Philippines government has vehemently denied Lascanas’ testimony, calling it a “fabrication.”

“Lascanas tale on (Duterte’s) alleged involvement in the EJK (extrajudicial killings) in Davao is a fabrication … there is a contradiction between his statement in the press conference and in his affidavit executed the day before he made the press conference,” Sal Panelo, Duterte’s chief legal counsel told CNN by text message. Lascanas also had appeared in front of the media last month.

“(Duterte) is outraged by any extrajudicial killing. Neither will he tolerate it. He abhors any violation of the Constitution or any law. Anything he does as President is pursuant to the constitutional duty of serving and protecting the people imposed on him by the basic charter.”

The hearing is the first one under the Committee on Dangerous Drugs and Public Order.

Special: City of the Dead: A neighborhood destroyed by Duterte’s war on drugs

Witnesses ‘credible’

Senator Leila de Lima, one of the President’s harshest critics, said that she had “no doubt” that both Lascanas and Edgar Matobato, another alleged DDS member who had come forward, were “credible.”

“No doubt Lascanas’ testimony, like that of Matobato is credible. Both Lascanas and Matobato are actual and direct participants in many incidents of killing as ordered by then Mayor Duterte. Their testimonies are based on their personal first hand knowledge, hence, admissible and worthy of credence,” she said in a statement.

“From these revelations, the hard, ugly and inconvenient truth is that President Duterte has a criminal mind as he is in fact a criminal, a mass murderer at that.”

De Lima was arrested on drugs charges last month. She and her supporters maintain that the arrest is a politically motivated vendetta. She remains in detention and cannot participate in the hearings.

No tears left to cry: Voisces from inside Duterte’s Davao City

Shifting testimony

In a complete reversal of earlier statements, Lascanas testified before the Senate inquiry that he was part of the infamous group, which had operated in Davao from the mid-1990s to as recently as 2013.

In a Senate hearing in October 2016, he had denied being a member of the group, refuting the sworn evidence of Matobato, who claimed in testimony in September 2016 to the Senate that he was a member of the DDS.

“There is no Davao Death Squad, your honor. That is all media hype,” Lascanas said at the time.

The vigilante group was allegedly composed of men from specialized anti-crime police units as well as former militants, he said.

War on drugs: Priest speaks out against Philippines ‘blood lust’

Clean slate

Lascanas said in Monday’s testimony that he was personally responsible for the deaths of almost 200 individuals, including 30 innocent bystanders.

Lascanas said his motive for changing his story was his “desire to tell the truth, not only because of my spiritual renewal” but also because of his fear of God.

“I wanted to clear my conscience,” he said. He added that he had lied in his previous testimony out of fear for his family’s safety.

Killer with a conscience: Could this former death squad member bring down Duterte?

Testimony ‘politically motivated’

Supporters of the President say that Lascanas’ testimony is politically motivated.

One senatorial ally of the President, Sen. JV Ejercito, said he cannot allow “the Senate (to) be used for any destabilization plot” but only for the sake of ferreting out the truth.

“(You might be being used) to pin down the president, this administration,” Sen. Manny Pacquiao, the boxer and another senatorial ally of the President, told Lascanas.

Another pro-Duterte lawmaker, Alan Peter Cayateno, suggested the drug gangs who were suffering at the hands of Duterte’s national police force were behind pushes to oust the President.

At the hearing, representatives from the Philippines Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said they will open or resume investigations on the Davao Death Squad.

“Because this is a continuing investigation, the CHR will be conducting and calling on (Lascanas and Matobato) and requesting to submit their affidavits,” Commissioner Roberto Eugenio Cadiz said.

Philippine National Police Director for Investigative group Gen. Marquez said the police will open investigations of unsolved cases based on Lascanas’ testimony.

“We will dig up these records and we will match and find corroborating evidence,” he said.