A retired police officer in the Philippines has come forward to testify that he took part in over 300 sanctioned killings, including 200 killings as part of a police ‘death squad.’

The officer has previously lied in his testimony before a Senate inquiry around extrajudicial killings linked to President Rodrigo Duterte and his ‘war on drugs.’

The officer claims his first 200 kills were as part of a Duterte-sanctioned death squad in the city of Davao, where Duterte had been mayor. Their targets reportedly included drug dealers, but also critics of Duterte, according to the officer.

When asked why he would come forward now, Arturo Lascanas said “I feared for the life of my loved ones,” and it was “because of my desire to tell all the truth, not only because of my spiritual renewal, but the fear of God, I wanted to clear my conscience.”

The testimony adds to mounting evidence pointing to a state sponsored campaign of violence and murder going beyond its stated objectives. Some reports have said that over 7,000 people have been killed in the campaign launched by President Duterte last summer after he assumed the presidency, many of them innocent bystanders caught in the various police raids going on around the country.

Duterte has not feigned ignorance over the reports of rising body counts as a result of his state-sanctioned drug war, in fact he has routinely flaunted his desire for bloodshed. He has casually threatened to “eat” terrorists from Abu Sayyaf, operating in his country’s south, and the police have included body counts as a measure of performance in their reports on the drug war.

The United States and other members of the international community have routinely expressed concern over the continuing violence, citing the apparent lack of accountability in the conduct of the raids on supposed drug dealers and users.

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Despite the international outcry, Duterte was elected in a landslide last year, on the very platform of waging just such a violent campaign against drugs.

Lascanas’ testimony has been decried as slander by Duterte’s supporters, citing the numerous investigations into his time as the mayor of Davao that showed no connection with Duterte or extrajudicial killings.

Image Courtesy of Reuters