Panelo: Duterte 'ignoring lies' of De Lima witness

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte had lashed at the United Nations and the US government for calling out his administration on the spate of killings linked to his war on drugs, but for now, he has opted to remain silent on the allegations of an alleged former member of the Davao Death Squad.

Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said in an interview with reporters on Friday, September 16, that the President has apparently taken a stance of silence as the testimony of Edgar Matobato before the Senate committee on justice and human rights the day before is "full of lies."

Asked what the President had said about the allegations that he had ordered killings in Davao City when he was mayor, Panelo said, “E nakita mo, hindi nga pinapansin. Kasi alam mo kaming mga abogado, kung walang kakuwenta-kuwenta ‘yan, hindi talaga namin papansinin.”

(As you can seen, he’s ignoring it. You know, we, lawyers, would really ignore something that is really worthless.) 

When asked, Panelo said no one has to advise the President not to dignify the Matobato’s allegations. “You don’t even have to advise this President. He’s such a smart, intelligent thinking lawyer, the President,” Panelo said.

The Palace official, however, did not directly respond to questions on whether Duterte knew about Matobato’s testimony, which detailed the alleged operations of the Davao Death Squad under Duterte when he was Davao City mayor.

Matobato had claimed that the group killed about 1,000 people from 1988 to 2013, mostly suspected criminals, upon orders of Duterte. 

“E unang-una nga, ke alam mo o hindi, kung kasinungalingan naman bakit mo pa papansinin? Tandaan niyo, during the campaign lahat na itinapon sa kanya and yet despite that he won overwhelmingly; landslide. And upon assumption of office he got 91% [trust] rating. Makikita natin na ang mga tao e di naniniwala sa lahat ng mga kasinungalingan na itinatapon kay Presidente Duterte,” he said.

(First of all, whether you know about it or not, if it’s all lies, why even bother? Remember, during the campaign, everything was hurled against him and yet despite that, he won overwhelmingly; landslide. And upon assumption of office he got 91%  [trust] rating. We can see that the people do not believe all these lies against President Duterte.)

Like Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Panelo alleged that Matobato was a “perjured witness.” He cited the opinion of several senators that the self-confessed former hitman lied in his Senate testimony.

To Senator Leila de Lima, who insists that Matobato is a “credible witness,” Panelo said, “Do your homework.” –