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Gordon: De Lima, Trillanes using Matobato in case vs Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – The chair of the Senate committee that cleared President Rodrigo Duterte of liability in extrajudicial killings accused two senators of using witness Edgar Matobato against the chief executive.

Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee on justice and human rights, said Senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes IV, two of the fiercest critics of the President, are using Matobato in their fight against Duterte.

Matobato on Friday, December 9, filed administrative and criminal charges against the President before the Ombudsman.

Referring to Matobato, Gordon told Rappler: “I don’t think he’s capable without any political help. I’m sure sila De Lima, Trillanes, but I don’t have proof, but they’re the ones who brought him to Congress.”

“Well according to himself he was not a grade school graduate, who would prepare his affidavit without anyone backing him up?” Gordon said.

It was De Lima who presented Matobato to the Senate, where he accused Duterte of ordering killings in Davao City when he was mayor. At present, Matobato is under Trillanes’ custody, after the Senate refused to grant him protection.

Asked if the two senators are using Matobato, Gordon said: “That’s obvious isn’t it? It’s obvious. Matobato came from nowhere, De Lima brought him to the Senate, she even presented him right away without affidavit.”

Won't prosper

For Gordon, the filing of charges against Duterte is meant to fuel the issue against the President, which the Senate, in its findings, rejected. A joint panel said Duterte has no hand in the summary executions and that there is no proof of existence of the Davao Death Squad. (READ: Senate panels to Duterte: Follow the law)

“Well it’s stoking propaganda fresh. They’re trying to make it appear they have a case when they don’t have one. I mean the committee found he was a lying, unreliable witness,” said Gordon, referring to Matobato.

Matobato filed before the Ombudsman a complaint against Duterte for kidnapping, murder, violation of Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act, and violations of R.A. No. 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity.

Gordon said he doubts the cases would prosper, especially if these charges are similar to those presented in the Senate hearings.

“It will go against him. I don’t know what the case is. If it is the same as the Senate, it will not prosper,” he said. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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