Matobato faces probe on killings anew sans De Lima as panel head

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Witness Edgar Matobato, a self-confessed member of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS), is set to face anew the Senate inquiry on extrajudicial killings Thursday, with Senator Richard Gordon as the new justice committee chair.

Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said Matobato’s credibility will be put to the test when the senators question him during the hearing scheduled at 1 p.m.

“I’m sure he will be subjected to questioning by members of the Senate…Ma-te-test ‘yung credibility niya kasi open na siya for questioning,” Sotto said.

Last week, then justice panel chair Senator Leila de Lima presented Matobato to testify on the “pattern” on the supposed killings in Davao City during President Rodrigo Duterte’s term as mayor there, and the killings today amid the administration’s war on drugs.

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Days after, the Senate voted to oust De Lima as committee chair, accusing her of bias in handling the probe. De Lima was replaced by Gordon as chair, but she remains to be a member of the committee.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who helped secure the safety of Matobato, said Gordon assured him that there will be no “whitewashing” in the Senate probe.

“He assured me na ilalabas si Mr. Matobato at walang whitewashing dito na mangyayari and I took his word for it,” Trillanes said in an interview.

In his testimony, Matobato claimed that he killed several individuals on Duterte’s orders. He also tagged the President’s son, incumbent Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, to alleged killings in Davao City, smuggling of rice and oil products, and supposed use of illegal drugs.

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Trillanes said investigating teams on the ground are already validating the claims made by Matobato.

“Sa ngayon, mas importante na i-validate na ‘yung mga sinasabi niya kasi ‘yung pag-validate niya na ‘yun, kung totoo, eh grabe ang implications noon,” Trillanes said.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, who earlier doubted the credibility of Matobato, eyes a speedy wrap-up of the Senate inquiry so that the senators can focus on their legislative work.

“Ang ano namin is to put a closure on EJK investigation, put closure on ethics investigation, then focus more on our legislative work,” Lacson said.

Lacson was referring to the ethics complaints filed against De Lima over the latter’s alleged links to the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison.

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“Whatever will be the conclusion, at least put closure. ‘Di pwedeng i-drag mo ng i-drag na-di-distract ang legislative work namin,” he said.

 

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