In photo: Alleged Davao Death Squad member Edgar Matobato testifies in Senate. Photo credits to news.abs-cbn.com
By Maria Katreena Saguid
Alleged member of Davao Death Squad (DDS) revealed atrocities “ordered” by President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte while serving as Davao City mayor, September 15.
57-year old Edgar Matobato shed light on the Lambada boys, a vigilante group formed in 1988 that later evolved as the DDS.
He declared it was initially composed of seven people tasked with ridding the locality of rapists and drug dealers. In 1993, it included rebel returnees and police officers.
“Kailangan putul-putulin ang katawan. Kukuhanan muna ng damit tapos sinusunog tapos chinochop-chop na,” Matobato explained as he narrated what they allegedly did to Sali Makdum, an suspected foreign terrorist whom they kidnapped, hanged and severed into pieces in 2002.
Matobato also told the Senate how his group bombed a mosque under the instruction of President Duterte in retaliation to the bombing of the Davao cathedral. There was no one in the mosque at that time so there were no casualties, he said.
“Para naman po kaming mga terrorist Ma’am,” Matobato said, recounting the time the group instilled fear within the Muslim community in Davao City. “Inaabangan namin halos gabi-gabi, pinapatay namin ang mga Muslim doon”
Matobato mentioned that Arthur Lascañas, who served as the leader of DDS, was still an incumbent officer in the Heinous Crime Section of Davao City and would retire this December.
The existence of the Heinous Crime Section, supposedly composed of members of the DDS, was confirmed by Philippine National Police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa. However, Dela Rosa denied having known Matobato except in name as a “tirador”.
He added that the Heinous Crime Section was under the detective and investigation branch of the Davao City Police. But by the time Dela Rosa assumed the office of the Davao City Director, the unit was no longer functioning.
Matobato noted that the DDS was also responsible for the killing of Cebuano hotelier Richard King and journalist Jun Pala. Orders to kill allegedly came either from President Rodrigo Duterte or Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte.
Having gone to the Senate to testify voluntarily, he said he did not have anyone to corroborate his claims. Also, he has not yet signed a sworn statement although Senator Leila De Lima clarified that the committee would help prepare a judicial affidavit for the witness.
“We hope that through a judicial affidavit, a written form, the witness would be able to really further clarify and further narrate everything that he knows for purposes of any appropriate legal or judicial proceeding,” she said.
The Senate probe on the rise of extrajudicial killings was headed by the Committee on Justice and Human Rights in cooperation with the Committee on Public Order and Drugs.