MANILA, Philippines – Even when he was still mayor of Davao City, President Rodrigo Duterte was at the receiving end of allegations pertaining to violations of human rights.
He has long been linked to the infamous Davao Death Squad (DDS), a vigilante group alleged to be behind the extrajudicial killings in Davao City. While Duterte has vehemently denied links to the vigilante group, human rights groups have called for an investigation of Duterte’s links to the summary killings. (READ: Davao Death Squad: Whatever happened to the investigations?)
On Thursday, September 15, Edgar Matobato, a self-confessed former member of the DDS, surfaced before a Senate hearing and claimed that Duterte and his son, Davao Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, were behind some of the killings.
The elder Duterte was Davao mayor for 21 years, serving for 3 three-term periods – from 1988 to 1998, 2001 to 2010, and 2013 to 2016. From 1998 to 2001, he served as the city’s 1st district representative. He was also vice mayor to his daughter, Sara Duterte, from 2010 to 2013.
During the Senate hearing, Matobato enumerated a series of incidents. Here they are in timeline format.
A series of grenade blasts took place in some mosques in Davao City, after a deadly blast outside the San Pedro Cathedral, also known as the Davao Cathedral. (READ: A history of bombings in Davao City)
Matobato claimed that the bombing of mosques was ordered by then mayor Duterte. Matobato said that he himself threw the grenade at the Bangkerohan Mosque. Nobody was hurt in these incidents, he added.
A religious leader identified as Jun Barsabal, who was arrested in Samal island, was ordered killed for grabbing and squatting on lands in Davao. Matobato claimed that 5 mayors, including then-mayor Duterte, “plotted” the operation to kill Barsabal.
A certain “Sali Makdum,” supposedly a suspected terrorist, was ordered killed by Duterte. Matobato said the group kidnapped Makdum and chopped him to pieces. He also claimed that Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa knew about this operation, as he was the chief of Davao City's Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF).
Senator Panfilo Lacson questioned Matobato’s claim, pointing out that the PAOCTF was abolished in 2001.
A suspect was arrested in Sarangani, brought to Bgy Kapatagan in Digos, Davao del Sur, and supposedly “fed to crocodiles.” Matobato linked current NBI director Dante Gierran, among others, to this incident.
The bodyguards of ex-House speaker and then-mayoral candidate Prospero Nograles were said to be kidnapped and killed. Matobato claimed that this was done upon orders of Duterte.
That year, it was Sara Duterte who ran and won as Davao City mayor; her father, Rodrigo Duterte, won as vice mayor.
A man whom Paolo Duterte had an argument with was said to be killed by a police unit from the Heinous Crimes section in the victim’s house in Deca Homes Subdivision. Matobato added that two other persons were killed in the operation. Matobato first mentioned that this happened in 2010, but later corrected himself and said that it was in 2013.
Paolo Duterte also allegedly ordered the shooting of a man he had an altercation with. The man, according to Matobato, overtook the vice mayor’s car while he was waiting in line at a gas station. The group then brought the body to a Marfori Heights subdivision and left it there with a .38 caliber gun.
A fixer at a Land Transportation Office (LTO) office was abducted. Matobato said that upon Duterte’s orders, the fixer was shot dead then dumped in San Rafael subdivision in Davao City.
3 women accused of being drug pushers were arrested from their apartment then killed, claimed Matobato. Their bodies were also dumped in San Rafael village.
A suspect arrested in Butuan City was brought to Davao City, but Matobato said that the suspect was salvaged by a certain Major Lao before they even reached the city center. It was allegedly ordered by Duterte, said Matobato.
A dancing instructor, then the boyfriend of Duterte’s sister Jocelyn, was supposedly ordered killed. Matobato added that the instructor was abducted, handcuffed, and killed at the Ma-a quarry.
Cebu businessman Richard King was shot dead in Obrero, Davao City. Matobato claimed that Paolo Duterte ordered the killing because he and King were rivals over a woman. Details of Matobato’s testimony, however, were inconsistent with previously documented details, as Senator Panfilo Lacson pointed out.
Police Superintendent Leonardo Felonia, former Regional Intelligence Unit-Davao chief, allegedly masterminded the killing of King.
Duterte, on July 8, linked King to alleged drug lord Herbert Colangco. King’s family, however, insisted that the late businessman was never involved in drugs.
An agent of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) identified as a certain “Amisola” was allegedly blocking a road in Matina, Davao City, and apprehended by a certain Major Pabo. A gunfight then ensued. Matobato claimed that Duterte later arrived at the scene and “finished off” the agent with “200 bullets” to the body.
– Research by Katerina Francisco, Michael Bueza, and Jodesz Gavilan / Rappler.com
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