SELF-CONFESSED hitman Edgar Matobato on Friday filed a criminal complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against President Rodrigo Duterte and 27 others for their alleged involvement in the so-called Davao Death Squad.
Matobato, who admitted that he was a former member of the dreaded DDS, accused President Duterte of murder, kidnapping, violation of the Anti-Torture Act, and violations of the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity.
Matobato also charged Duterte’s son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa and 25 others.
The complaints were filed by Matobato’s lawyer, Jude Sabio, before the Ombudsman.
In his affidavit, Matobato said the DDS executed more than 1,000 suspected criminals and other individuals from the time it was established in 1988 until the time he left the group in 2013.
Matobato said Duterte founded DDS when he was Davao City mayor. The group, which was composed of some local policemen and civilians, was initially named “Lambada Boys.”
Matobato said Duterte, as mayor, was the highest official in the DDS, and “cleared” almost all operations.
“He was the one who ordered people killed,” he said in Filipino.
Matobato also named SPO4 Arthur Lascanas as “second-in-command” to Duterte within the DDS, while SPO4 Sanson Buenaventura, also known as the “little mayor.”
Matobato said Lascanas gave the order on who Duterte wanted killed while Buenaventura was responsible for paying off the people involved in the killings.
“From what I know, nobody could kill anyone without getting an order or clearance from the mayor,” the complainant said.
He also claimed that he was Lascanas’ right hand man. In 2013, he said the police officer even gave him a watch with the receipt bearing the name of Duterte’s supposed second-in-command.
From an initial seven members, Matobato said DDS grew over the years to include rebel returnees from the New People’s Army. He said the new members were in charge of “small-time” jobs such as killing barangay toughies, gang members and so-called “rugby boys.”
Victims were usually strangled inside a car. The bodies then had to be chopped up, in accordance with Lascanas’ orders, he said.
“Lascanas was strict about chopping the bodies. You couldn’t just shoot or stangle the victim,” he said in Filipino.
Matobato claimed there were times when Duterte was personally involved in the killings.
Sometimes, he would go to Laud Quarry to watch the victim get killed and chopped up, he added.
The chopped up bodies were either buried or thrown in to the sea, Matobato said. He said the Laud Firing Range in Barangay Ma-a, Davao city, was a regular dumping ground for Death Squad victims.
Matobato said the operations were not limited to Davao City, with the group traveling as far as General Santos City, Butuan, Tagum, Panabo, Davao del Sur, Digos, Maitum and Sarangani to kill. A member was also assigned to do jobs in Manila sometime in 2002 or 2003, he added.
Matobato said the DDS killed an average of three members daily, not including those who were shot on the streets.
In his affidavit, Matobato also detailed the killings of members of former Speaker Prospero Nograles’ security detail, a dance instructor who was reportedly the boyfriend of Duterte’s sister Jocelyn, and billionaire businessman Richard King, whose death was supposedly ordered by Paolo Duterte.
Matabato said he was compensated for his work in the DDS even while he was employed as a contractual worker of the Civil Security Unit with a monthly salary of P6,000.
At present, Matobato said, all of the policemen who were part of the DDS are already rich. He claimed that aside from killing people, the hitmen also earned from smuggling, which is reportedly controlled by Vice Mayor Duterte.
Matobato said he was tortured on Lascanas’ orders when he tried to leave DDS in 2013. He said he managed to get out alive after his wife made a scene when DDS members went to his house.
With his testimony, Matobato said he hoped justice would be given to the victims of the DDS.
Malacañang dismissed the complaint.
“The complaint is nothing but harassment aimed at distracting the Chief Executive from performing his duty. The Ombudsman already terminated an earlier investigation on the Davao Death Squad case which linked then Davao City Mayor Duterte,” Communications Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Banaag said in a statement.
The Palace official also said “the Ombudsman cannot discipline or remove impeachable officials, which include the President” and that he enjoys immunity while in office.
“However, we acknowledge the constitutional mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman to act on and investigate complaints against government officials,” Banaag said.
Vice Mayor Duterte also denied the allegations but said he welcomed the filing of a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman.
“The filing by Mr. Edgar Matobato of criminal and administrative charges against me and several others, including my father, President Rodrigo Duterte, is a proof that the Philippines is a democracy,” Paolo said.
“A closer look at what was filed at the Ombudsman will easily allow us to see the only thing consistent in the Matobato tales—lies,” Paolo said. “What he filed at the Ombudsman was just a piece of garbage.”
The vice mayor said that the allegations thrown against him by Matobato were all the “product of the imagination of a madman.” With F. Pearl A. Gajunera
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