MANILA, Philippines – Edgar Matobato once again roams free, after his lawyers posted bail before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Friday, October 14.
Matobato, a self-confessed hitman and supposed member of the so-called Davao Death Squad, surrendered before the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters a week ago on Friday, October 7, after a Davao court issued an arrest warrant against him for failing to attend an arraignment.
He faces a 2014 case for the illegal possession of firearms.
Matobato is President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief accuser and has claimed that as mayor of Davao city for over 2 decades, Duterte formed, funded, and headed the “Davao Death Squad,” a vigilante group that killed suspected criminals and even personal and political enemies of the former Davao mayor.
He first surfaced during a Senate probe into the rise of killings in Duterte’s nationwide “war on drugs.” Since he testified, the hearings segued into the supposed existence of the Davao Death Squad and Duterte’s role in it.
But Duterte’s allies in the Senate later booted out Senator Leila de Lima, committee on justice and human rights chairman and chief Duterte critic, out of her committee chairmanship. Subsequent hearings, chaired by Senator Richard Gordon, saw Duterte allies grilling Matobato, exposing inconsistencies in his claims.
Gordon has criticized De Lima and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, another Duterte critic, for hiding Matobato supposedly because his testimony had already crumbled. Gordon eventually dismissed Matobato as a witness from the Senate investigation.
In a text message, Trillanes said Matobato through his lawyer posted bail in Quezon City. “He was then processed for release by the Crame Custodial Center. Thereafter, around 330 pm, my office has resumed providing protective custody to him,” added the senator.
Trillanes has been providing “protective custody” to the whistleblower since he first surfaced. Both De Lima and Trillanes had asked the Senate to provide the supposed whistleblower security but this was shot down by Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III.
Matobato’s lawyers are working on having the illegal possession of firearms case moved to a Manila court. – Rappler.com